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The Help-Yourself City: Legitimacy and Inequality in DIY Urbanism (Hardback)
  • The Help-Yourself City: Legitimacy and Inequality in DIY Urbanism (Hardback)

The Help-Yourself City: Legitimacy and Inequality in DIY Urbanism (Hardback)

Hardback 264 Pages / Published: 26/04/2018
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When cash-strapped local governments fail to provide adequate services, and planning policies prioritize economic development over community needs, how do concerned citizens respond? In The Help-Yourself City, Gordon Douglas looks closely at the people who take urban planning into their own hands, dubbed "do-it-yourself urban design." Through in-depth interviews with do-it-yourselfers, professional planners, and community members, as well as participant observation, photography, media, and policy analysis, Douglas demonstrates that many do-it-yourselfers employ professional techniques and expertise to enable and inspire their actions. He argues that many unauthorized interventions are created from a position of privilege, where legal repercussions are unlikely, while people from disadvantaged communities where improvements may be most needed face disincentives to taking such actions themselves. Presenting a needed social analysis of this growing trend, while connecting it to debates on inequality, citizenship, and contemporary urban political economy, The Help-Yourself City tells a street-level story of people's relationships to their surroundings and the individualization of democratic responsibility.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780190691332
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 578 g
Dimensions: 236 x 164 x 21 mm


"Rising above mere ethnographic survey of 'do it yourself' urban projects-like guerrilla gardening or citizens' refashioning an urban space-Douglas inventories civic engagement full-on, including larger issues of social order and the costs and benefits of people taking pieces of the city into their own hands. Always thoughtful and without naivet , he gives us a glimpse of pathways for urban reform and, more important, some manifestations of hope."
--Harvey Molotch, author of Against Security

"A book I have long been waiting for! Douglas explores the diverse ways in which people engage urban space and bring their ideas on to the streets themselves through site-specific planning efforts. The book shows us the broad range of urban knowledges present in any city neighborhood, but also the challenges of negotiating them in public space."
--Saskia Sassen, author of Expulsions

"Do It Yourself urban design is an insubordinate, self-authorized, 'informal, ' response to both the deficits of official planning and to the 'help yourself' regime of our old friend, neoliberalism. In this fascinating-and critical-reading, Douglas presents DIY as a progressive inversion of the broken windows theory of policing, rejecting control by coercive orderliness and seeking to cure deficits in the public realm by wanton acts of creative, corrective -if often privileged-addition."
--Michael Sorkin, author of Twenty Minutes in Manhattan

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