The SAGE Handbook of the 21st Century City

The SAGE Handbook of the 21st Century City focuses on the dynamics and disruptions of the contemporary city in relation to capricious processes of global urbanization, mutation and resistance.  An international range of scholars engage with emerging urban conditions and inequalities in experimental ways, speaking to new ideas of what constitutes the urban, highlighting empirical explorations and expanding on contributions to policy and design. The handbook is organised around nine key themes, through which familiar analytic categories of race, gender and class, as well as binaries such as the urban/rural, are readdressed. These thematic sections together capture the volatile processes and intricacies of urbanization that reveal the turbulent nature of our early twenty-first century:

  • Hierarchy: Elites and Evictions
  • Productivity: Over-investment and Abandonment
  • Authority: Governance and Mobilisations
  • Volatility: Disruption and Adaptation
  • Conflict: Vulnerability and Insurgency
  • Provisionality: Infrastructure and Incrementalism
  • Mobility: Re-bordering and De-bordering
  • Civility: Contestation and Encounter
  • Design: Speculation and Imagination

This is a provocative, inter-disciplinary handbook for all academics and researchers interested in contemporary urban studies.

“Look no further. Whether interested in the latest conceptual turn in defining the urban, or in the importance of transcending disciplinary boundaries in the study of cities, this handbook has it all. It is a superb collection that contains a remarkable set of essays from the world’s leading urbanists whose combined wisdom is essential to anyone seeking to understand the 21st century city.  As noted in the editors’ introduction, this is not your standard urban sociology monograph. It is a call to consider new methods of action and imagination, built on a scholarly embrace of ethnographic and analytical thinking and brought to life through the careful reexamination of what the city is and might become in times of rapid and disruptive change. Adroitly organized around a range of thematic topics and scales of inquiry that shed light on timely issues such as immigration, risk, eviction, and conflict as well as more enduring concerns like governance, globalization, and investment, the main challenge for the reader will be to absorb it all. Yet, the editors’ abiding concern with the socio-spatial and experiential contours of the urban, and their clear appreciation for the impact of design on the production and consumption of the city, provide an opportunity to tie together the various sections and chapters in unique and provocative ways.  Although there are many worthy urban collections available on the market today, hands-down this is the one I’d want my students to read and my colleagues to discuss.” —Diane E. Davis, Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism, Harvard Graduate School of Design

“In the respected tradition of the SAGE Handbook, this collection brings together the most important urban scholars of out time. Their insightful analyses of the processes, experiences and consequences of urbanization draw upon a diverse array of cities and remind us that the effects of urbanization reach beyond any geographical city limit.  This carefully curated collection redefines the interdisciplinary field of urban studies and sets its moral course to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” —Jane M Jacobs, Professor of Urban Studies, Yale-NUS College, Singapore

“Astute and comprehensive, this expertly assembled volume moves through and well beyond the categories that have shaped our current understandings of cities – global and ordinary, northern and southern, formal and informal, civil and conflictual – to reveal the struggles over meaning and access that cut across class, culture, politics, and space. Read together, the pieces vividly capture the brutalities and possibilities of capitalist urban development, honing in on the mobilities and mobilizations – characterized here as the “urban churn” – that give cities their dynamic character.” —Liza Weinstein, Associate Professor in Sociology, Northeastern University, USA

“This outstanding collection of essays, reflections, provocations and “excavations of the future” is both timely and appropriate. Appropriate, since it asks the reader to re-assess the way in which contemporary urbanity is both familiar and not, depending on one’s location and perspective, and timely since the editors’ bold assertion of a new taxonomy of issues from ‘authority’ to ‘civility’ dissolves the decades-old hierarchies between First- and Third World, developed and developing, the West and the Rest. Individual essays aside, its most important contribution to the exploding field(s) of scholarship concerned with how we understand, shape, influence and inhabit our increasingly urban world is to draw threads across ‘profoundly asymmetrical’ lines of power, race, class and culture that acknowledge difference without flattening it, or without aspiring to ‘models for the whole world’, yet, at the same time, asserts the oft-buried capacity in all of us to connect, share, dialogue and learn from each other. ‘Design’ here is less concerned with a conventional reading of form/performance and aesthetics and more preoccupied with our ability to imagine new ways of reading and engaging the world around us. In their own words, a ‘churningly’ fine collection that manages to be poetic, provocative and pedagogically compelling all at once.” —Lesley Lokko, Head of the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg, South Africa