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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Finding Space Beyond Variables: An Analytical Review of Urban Space and Social Inequalities

  • Author(s): Joseph, Lauren
  • et al.

One of the legacies of the Chicago School of urban sociology is the enduring view of urban space as a proxy for demographic, structural, economic or behavioral variables. In this paper I review that approach in its multiple forms, but also appraise the other ways that urban space has been attended to in social theory and empirical studies, focusing on relations of race, class, and sexuality. I present three major theoretical dimensions of the intersection of urban space, social inequality and social difference: (a) urban space as inscribed by boundaries and reflective of patterns of social difference and inequality; (b) urban space as a site and object of struggle between social groups; and (c) urban space as a vehicle for social reproduction through the logic of its universe.

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