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Urban politics is politics in and about cities. This term refers to the diverse political structure that occurs in urban areas where there is diversity in both race and socio-economic status. Urban politics is political science that falls into the field of urban studies, which incorporates many aspects of cities, suburbs, and urbanization. This includes such topics as:
- The structure of political power.
- Race, ethnic, class, and gender relations in cities and suburbs.
- The politics of space and spatial relationships.
The ongoing urbanization of the world is sometimes portrayed as a sort of natural process, as determined by economics or something else beyond the control of humans. The study of urban politics reveals a different truth altogether; that the process of urbanization is itself is inherently political. To study urban politics is to study what happens on the ground, among people who share the same space for day-to-day living. This makes the study of urban politics particularly challenging and difficult to analyze.
The Marxist approach to urban politics conceptualized the city as a geographical entity produced and reproduced through capitalism, not as a neutral vessel in which autonomous local politics too place.’ Marx considered any time spent on questioning the "organization, motivation and power of urban elites and managers" as a distraction from the direct acts that moved advanced capital. "Marx commentators reconceptualised the city as a site of capitalist oppression, where the agents of capial acted to produce favourable conditions for capital accumulation but also as a site of conflict, which is both produced by and helps sustain capitalism." (Jones 100)
Interior borders can affect the metropolis. In ancient Greece the drawn boundaries were intangible. To be in the city was more than to be within a boundary, it was to be a citizen of that territory. The politics of the ancient Greeks restricted women, slaves, foreigners, and men under age eighteen from citizenship. (Toothman 1) With citizenship came added powers, including the right to participate in politics. A city needs trade. Say it uses trains for the transportation of its traded goods. The necessary tracks upon which these trains run are borders themselves. It is ideal to minimize these internal physical divisions of the city fore they can lead to social divisions and worse problems following that. Just think, the land closely surrounding the tracks is now of a lower value. This means that it will sell cheap and appeal to the poorer citizen. With lower income owners flocking to this track area this may encourage other groups to move around as well, maybe outside the city to the suburbs. (Jacobs 258).
"..the city can be a metaphor for history or futurity, and established traditional structure or a fluid space of evolutionary possibility and hopeful excess." (Owens 300) This daunting task of steering the massive vessel forward or behind is left to our politicians and populous through policy, trade, production, safety and the many more workings of urban politics.
- Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. [New York]: Random House, 1961. Print.
- Jones, Martin, Rhys Jones, and Michael Woods. An Introduction to Political Geography: Space, Place and Politics. London: Routledge, 2004. Print.
- Parker, Simon; Urban Theory and the Urban Experience: Encountering the City, London and New York: Routledge, 2004.
- Owens, Judith, Greg T. Smith, and Glenn Clark. City Limits: Perspectives on the Historical European City. Montreal: McGill-Queen's UP, 2010. Print.
Toothman, Jessika. "What are the origins of democracy?" 8 June 2010. HowStuffWorks.com. <http://history.howstuffworks.com/ancient-greece/origins-democracy.htm> 25 November 2010.