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Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place Paperback – Deluxe Edition, August 28, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0520254282 ISBN-10: 0520254287 Edition: 20th Anniversary Edition, With a New Preface

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 413 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 20th Anniversary Edition, With a New Preface edition (August 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520254287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520254282
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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“Among a rare breed.”
(Journal Of Regional Science 2009-08-20)

From the Inside Flap

"Twenty years after publication, Urban Fortunes remains the best book on urban sociology around. Starting from a political economy analysis, Logan and Molotch develop a picture of the formative processes creating the contemporary American city while managing to avoid the pitfalls of determinism."—Susan Fainstein, Harvard University

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Swartz on June 5, 2009
Who rules cities? Logan and Molotch have a theory. This book lays it out, in fairly simple terms. It argues that landowners have a shared interest in "growth", i.e. increased property values (land's exchange-value), and are willing to do whatever it takes to get them, including taking over government. This puts them in conflict with residents who care about their neighborhoods (land's use-value) and don't want growth's unstoppable engine.

It's a brilliant book, with insights on every page and some poignant stories as well. Logan and Molotch are sociologists, not writers, so the book drags at points, but it's well worth it for anyone who's interested in the subject. My major critique is that it underplays the importance of planning and doesn't provide a good explanation for it, but that's a rather minor criticism, all things considered. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Toby Thaler on December 30, 2014
This seminal work lays out how "growth coalitions" make many of the key governance decisions in U.S. cities (and Toronto and Vancouver), especially regarding land use and supporting infrastructure. What is a growth coalition? It's the bankers/lenders, landowners, and developers—along with their bought politicians, lawyers, realtors, etc.—who work together to maximize the exchange value of real estate in a particular locale. Who opposes them? Many or most of the people who live in the city, at least to the extent that they become aware of the growth coalition dynamic; their interest is in the place value of their homes and communities. How does the growth coalition achieve its aims? By promoting growth ("increasing intensification of land use"); growth gives great returns on investment. It also gives gentrification—more public spending on infrastructure, higher rents, higher property values and taxes, displacement of low income people.

Urban Fortunes lays out this dynamic in a clear and concise manner. The book was published in 1987 but the core chapter 3, "The City as Growth Machine," was published by Harvey Molotch in 1976. Forty years of hindsight (and numerous follow up papers, books, conferences, etc) have shown how accurate Logan and Molotch were. New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, and other cities, have all experienced increasing gentrification following the pattern laid out in this book.

For an excellent essay on Logan and Molotch's growth coalition framing of urban political economy in the U.S., see G. Wm. Domhoff's "Power at the Local Level" at his Who Rules America web site.
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