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Sprawling Places

ISBN-13: 978-0820329895
ISBN-10: 0820329894
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Editorial Reviews


The central idea―to provide a critical analysis of new kinds of places, and to offer a defense of them against standard objections―is timely and interesting. Kolb makes effective use of the relevant philosophical and social science literature and provides numerous useful examples. Sprawling Places will find an audience among cultural theorists and analysts of popular culture, philosophers, architects, and urban designers and planners.

(William J. Mitchell author of Placing Words: Symbols, Space, and the City)

Making better places involves more than just improving the architecture―it means being attentive to the social interactions, norms, and meanings generated by a given location. In Sprawling Places David Kolb employs this idea to help us assess and re-assess a variety of contemporary places, from theme parks to traditional suburbs to New Urbanist developments. Kolb asks us to move beyond totalizing critiques of suburban places, and instead evaluate places according to the level of complexity they exhibit and the kinds of social meanings and practices they promote. He shows how this framework can help us think not just critically but constructively about suburban places and how they might be improved by creative interventions, ranging from subtle changes in street-level details to larger-order policy reforms. Theoretically rich yet highly engaging, Sprawling Places offers a fresh and surprisingly hopeful contribution to our understanding of suburban life.

(Thad Williamson coauthor of Making a Place for Community: Local Democracy in a Global Era)

In this polemic, philosopher and place theorist David Kolb deploys more unconventional thinking in the service of what turn out to be common sense ideas. Kolb finds distinctions where others assume homogeneity; his baseline act of discernment is to recognize that suburbs are neither small villages or large cities, and therefore should be approached as unique phenomena.

(New Haven Review)

Flexible interpretations of sprawl are necessary on a planet that shows no signs of divorcing itself from its cars and suburbs, and Kolb provides some imaginative and theoretical tools for reconsidering, with fewer prejudices, both fragmentation and polycentrism.

(Net American City)

About the Author

David Kolb is the author of several books, including "Postmodern Sophistications." He is the Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Bates College.

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