Urban Fortunes builds on Molotch's 1976 classic paper, "The City as a Growth Machine." In this body of work, Molotch takes the dominant convention of studying urban land use and turns it on its head.
The field of urban sociology (as well as urban geography, planning, and economics) was previously dominated by the idea that cities were basically containers for human action, in which actors competed among themselves for the most strategic parcels of land, and the real estate market reflected the state of that competition. Out of this competition were thought to come the shape of the city and the distribution of social types within it (e.g. banks in the center, affluent residents in the suburbs). Long established notions such as central place theory and the sectoral hypothesis were claims that are more or less "natural" spatial geography evolved from competitive market activity.
Molotch points out that land parcels are not empty fields awaiting human action, but are associated with specific interests—commercial, sentimental, and psychological. Especially important in shaping cities are the real estate interests of those whose properties gain value when growth takes place. These actors make up what Molotch terms "the local growth machine": a term now standard in the urban studies lexicon. From this perspective, cities need to be studied (and compared) in terms of the organization, lobbying, manipulating, and structuring carried out by these actors. The outcome—the shape of cities and the distribution of their peoples—is thus not due to an interpersonal market or geographic necessities, but to social actions, including opportunistic dealing. Urban Fortunes has influenced hundreds of national and international studies.
Condition: covers marked; previous owner's name on free end paper; interior pages clean and crisp with a tight binding.