Social Justice And The Fight Research Proposal

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Those limits entail a legal distinction between "pure speech," "expressive conduct" and "behavior" (Mitcell 7) Thus, Mitchell calls for "the democratization of public space" (9). Public space must become public once again, geographically and theoretically. Mitchell briefly mentions the Internet as a virtual public space facing similar threats as the physical city does. The same forces controlling physical spaces in the city are vying for power over the virtual spaces online. Mitchell especially targets consumerism as a driving force behind space stealing in both cities and online. Traffic, whether vehicular, pedestrian, or online, is diverted towards large-scale commercial enterprise. In cities as well as online, small businesses suffer, as does consumer choice. Banner advertisements online are akin to large billboards in cities: another blatant use of public space for private enterprise. Some business development zones actively restrict membership to their exclusive elite areas: which are open only businesses deemed desirable to the neighborhood. Capitalism and fear mongering are both changing the American city.

Mitchell spends a great deal of time explaining why the marginalized citizens of America, especially the homeless, are hit hard by the changes. However, the author also views the new restrictions as affronts to general civil liberties that ought to be guaranteed by the American constitution. Mitchell spends a good amount of time delving into the legal aspects of urban planning and development. Laws, many of which are local but some of which are federal as well, are cutting into civil liberties.

The city is a symbol of human diversity and also of democracy: the city is the polis. Therefore, "a right to the city must be at the heart of any vision of a progressive, democratic, and just world," (Mitchell 6). Public spaces must be preserved as such: parks used for...

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To make his point, Mitchell mentions a series of historical events that helped define the "right to the city" such as the Industrial Workers of the World March in the early twentieth century. The evolution of the urban center can be linked closely with the evolution of democratic politics in the United States and elsewhere. As Mitchell points out, the city was not necessarily conceived of as a place where free assembly could take place and freedom of speech exercised fully. The city should be legally construed as a shared collective space: a geographic zone that belongs to all citizens just as a tree in the woods would. If all citizens have the right to housing, then homeless people essentially deserve the right to find housing in a public space.
Interestingly, cities were at least in part conceived of as centers of capitalist enterprise. Cities have always been home to public markets, where a diverse group of people meets to trade wares and socialize. The market function of the city remains extant and important in a modern society. What has changed is the nature of the market and its collusion with government.

Living in an urban center entails "some tolerance for risk and danger," (Mitchell 5). Sterilizing the city is an unnecessarily drastic step towards realizing the goal of security. While crime prevention and safety are important goals and key functions of local governments, those goals should not be pursued at the expense of civil liberties. Ironically, anti-homeless and anti-protest laws are proposed to improve quality of life in urban centers. Getting rid of homeless people as well as drug dealers and other undesireables improves quality of life only in as much as sweeping dirt under the carpet cleans the house.

Work Cited

Mitchell, Don. The Right to the City. Guilford Press, 2003.

Sources Used in Documents:

Work Cited

Mitchell, Don. The Right to the City. Guilford Press, 2003.


Cite this Document:

"Social Justice And The Fight" (2009, April 19) Retrieved June 14, 2024, from
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