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My Los Angeles

My Los Angeles: From Urban Restructuring to Regional Urbanization

Edward W. Soja
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    My Los Angeles
    Book Description:

    At once informative and entertaining, inspiring and challenging,My Los Angelesprovides a deep understanding of urban development and change over the past forty years in Los Angeles and other city regions of the world. Once the least dense American metropolis, Los Angeles is now the country's densest urbanized area and one of the most culturally heterogeneous cities in the world. Soja takes us through this urban metamorphosis, analyzing urban restructuring, deindustrialization and reindustrialization, the globalization of capital and labor, and the formation of an information-intensive New Economy. By examining his own evolving interpretations of Los Angeles and the debates on the so-called Los Angeles School of urban studies, Soja argues that a radical shift is taking place in the nature of the urbanization process, from the familiar metropolitan model to regional urbanization. By looking at such concepts as new regionalism, the spatial turn, the end of the metropolis era, the urbanization of suburbia, the global spread of industrial urbanism, and the transformative urban-industrialization of China, Soja offers a unique and remarkable perspective on critical urban and regional studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95763-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-26)

    With its incomparable outward reach, Los Angeles vividly screens itself everywhere on earth, evoking images—and strong opinions—from practically everyone, including many who have never been there and depend on the opinions and images of others to shape their impressions. Its iconic imagery provokes exaggeration, fomenting emotionally excessive repulsion as well as unbridled attraction. Real and imagined LA seethes with such paradoxes—provocative intertwinings of utopia and dystopia, brilliant sunshine and noir decadence, opportunity and danger, optimism and despair.

    Further complicating any understanding of the actual place, Los Angeles for the past century has been a fountainhead of imaginative...

  6. ONE When It First Came Together in Los Angeles (1965–1992)
    (pp. 27-58)

    My geohistory of Los Angeles begins in 1965, in the bewildering aftermath of one of the most violent and costly riots in U.S. history. The Watts Riots burned down the core of African American LA and had an even larger, worldwide impact. As one of the leading edges of global urban unrest in the 1960s, the Watts uprising announced to the world that the postwar economic boom in the United States and elsewhere was not going to continue with business as usual, for too many benefited too little from the boom. There were riots and uprisings around the world before...

  7. TWO Taking Los Angeles Apart (1985–1995)
    (pp. 59-84)

    The early work of the Los Angeles research cluster reached a peak of sorts with the publication in 1986 of a special issue on Los Angeles by the influential journalSociety and Space (Environment and Planning D).Michael Dear, then professor of geography at the University of Southern California and also a geographer-planner, was a founding editor of the journal and promoted the special issue. He would later refer to it as the symbolic beginning of his version and vision of the so-called Los Angeles School of Urbanism.¹ Basking somewhat in the rapidly growing interest in Los Angeles–based research,...

  8. THREE Inside Exopolis: VIEWS OF ORANGE COUNTY (1990–1996)
    (pp. 85-110)

    After “Taking Los Angeles Apart,” I could not go back to traditional academic writing and turned instead to the county next door to take another unconventional look at the Los Angeles urbanized area. Orange County was itself both a parody and paradigm of the New American City, an outer city that had grown into a peculiar “postsuburban” metropolis that demanded global attention and not a little scorn. Rather than sixty suburbs in search of a city, as the old Los Angeles was described, OC became a conglomeration of thirty-four cities desperately searching for some sense of centrality—for where the...

  9. FOUR Comparing Los Angeles
    (pp. 111-139)

    After my Orange County adventures, with a few exceptions, I stopped writing directly about the Southern California region and began a new, more comparative phase of writing, lecturing, and learning from Los Angeles. Responding to the growing global interest in Los Angeles, I literally and figuratively took LA on tour around the world, responding to invitations to apply what had been learned to other urban contexts. Looking back, during the 1990s I came close to launching a new career as a “city critic,” offering my (LA-based) views and impressions of other places very much like a movie reviewer or restaurant...

  10. FIVE On the Postmetropolitan Transition
    (pp. 140-170)

    As practically everything described as “postmodern” in the 1990s became almost unavoidably embroiled in seemingly impossible-to-resolve conflicts of interpretation and emphasis, I stopped trying to defend and clarify my particular take on critical postmodernism (an oxymoron to many) and shifted to interpreting more directly the dramatic transformation of the modern metropolis that I saw so vividly unfolding in Los Angeles.¹ Unable to be more specific in “Six Discourses on the Postmetropolis” (app. 1, source 5D), I called the emergent new form the “postmetropolis” and accordingly redefined what was happening after 1965 and especially after 1980 as the “postmetropolitan transition,”...

  11. SIX A Look Beyond Los Angeles
    (pp. 171-193)

    There are currently around five hundred megacity regions with populations of over one million. Each one, including Los Angeles, can be seen as a product of two interacting forces, one involving general trends that affect them all to varying degrees, the other reflecting a multiplicity of particular local conditions and influential forces that make each different from the others. The objective of each of the six discourses discussed in the preceding chapter was to generalize about the particularities of the postmetropolitan transition as it has been expressed in Los Angeles. In this chapter, we move beyond the illustrative details of...

  12. SEVEN Regional Urbanization and the End of the Metropolis Era
    (pp. 194-218)

    Regional urbanization has been referred to many times in earlier chapters. What I plan to do here, in addition to providing further clarification and elaboration of the concept, is to argue as strongly as I can just how profound a change regional urbanization represents in both the nature of the urbanization process and how we think about cities and urban change. Defined as a transformative shift from a metropolitan model, regional urbanization requires much more than a simple name change to define and describe this latest morphing of the industrial capitalist city. It signals instead a fundamental structural, behavioral, and...

  13. EIGHT Seeking Spatial Justice in Los Angeles
    (pp. 219-246)

    Accompanying the rise of Los Angeles as the densest urbanized area in the country, its move from WASPish homogeneity to perhaps the most culturally heterogeneous city in the world, and its shift from exemplary model of the modern metropolis to forerunner of regional urbanization has been the transformation of Los Angeles from a notoriously antilabor environment to the leading edge of the American labor movement. Just as much a part of urban restructuring, postmodern urbanism, the postmetropolitan transition, and the unfolding force of regional urbanization has been a reverberating political activism that has shaped the flow of research on LA...

    (pp. 247-268)

    Every chapter ofMy Los Angeleshas been shaped by an assertive spatial perspective that builds on the notion that the material geographies which we produce and in which we live have a significant effect on our lives and our histories. Particularly powerful in this geographical effect is what can roughly be described asurban spatial causality,the explanatory force that derives from the stimulus of urban agglomeration, from the way urban life is spatially organized.

    Examples of the force that emanates from urban agglomeration have been central to understanding the urban restructuring process and the rise of regional urbanization...

  15. APPENDIX 1: Source Texts by the Author
    (pp. 269-276)
  16. APPENDIX 2: Complementary Video Sources
    (pp. 277-278)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 279-284)