This book makes the case for a pragmatist approach to the practice of social inquiry and knowledge production. Through diverse examples from multiple disciplines, contributors explore the power of pragmatism to inform a practice of inquiry that is democratic, community-centred, problem-oriented and experimental. Drawing from both classical and neo-pragmatist perspectives, the book advances a pragmatist sensibility in which truth and knowledge are contingent rather than universal, made rather than found, provisional rather than dogmatic, subject to continuous experimentation rather than ultimate proof and verified in their application in action rather than in the accuracy of their representation of an antecedent reality. The power of pragmatism offers a path forward for mobilizing the practice of inquiry in social research, exploring the implications of pragmatism for the process of knowledge production.
action described above is associated with big-D development and is most commonly associated with the modernisation and globalisation projects pursued by international agencies, international businesses and dominant powers underpinning mainstream economic thinking. Big-D development also recruits representative democracy as its preferred institutional arrangement and it largely restricts the assessment of experiments in development to the satisfaction of economic growth.
In contrast, little-d development is associated with armchair theorising and focuses on the
-for-granted socio-culturally formed habits, and what inquiry and democracy are (or can be) if conceptualised in pragmatist terms, we can have hope for the future, because we have a method for making it better. That method entails a role for ordinary citizens and for so-called experts who offer scholarly or scientific knowledge. I begin, however, with an introductory note about my journey to this argument, because I believe the backstory might be helpful to other social scientists who are utilising pragmatism, others who are approaching pragmatism for the first time or those who
Alex Schafran, Matthew Noah Smith, and Stephen Hall
certain political systems rooted in deliberative democracy, or forms of engagement, or collective ownership, which have been proven to be useful in producing better housing or food or water?
In the following sections, we first briefly review these other approaches, highlighting both their vital contributions and their limitations as an overarching framework. We then explain in more detail why we have chosen to modify social contract theory to form this notion of the spatial contract, and how it differs from the various historical and contemporary
Beata J. Gawryszewska, Maciej Łepkowski, and Anna Wilczyńska
City wastelands: creating places of
Beata J. Gawryszewska, Maciej Łepkowski
and Anna Wilczyńska
When considering the issue of social justice in relation to space and landscape,
questions regarding human rights (Mitchell, 2016), green spaces distribution and
accessibility and space preferences (Rigolon, 2016) need to be asked. Egoz et al.
(2016) classified human rights into two groups, namely the right to means to sustain life, meaning resources supporting human biological existence, as well as the
right to dignity, comprising
It is increasingly clear that, alongside the spectacular forms of justice activism, the actually existing just city results from different everyday practices of performative politics that produce transformative trajectories and alternative realities in response to particular injustices in situated contexts. The massive diffusion of urban gardening practices (including allotments, community gardens, guerrilla gardening and the multiple, inventive forms of gardening the city) deserve special attention as experiential learning and in-becoming responses to spatial politics, able to articulate different forms of power and resistance to the current state of unequal distribution of benefits and burdens in the urban space. While advancing their socio-environmental claims, urban gardeners make evident that the physical disposition of living beings and non-living things can both determine and perpetuate injustices or create justice spaces. In so doing, urban gardeners question the inequality-biased structuring and functioning of social formations (most notably urban deprivation, lack of public decision and engagement, and marginalisation processes); and conversely create (or allow the creation of) spaces of justice in contemporary cities. This book presents a selection of contributions investigating the possibility and capability of urban gardeners to effectively tackle spatial injustice; and it offers the readers sound, theoretically grounded reflections on the topic. Building upon on-the-field experiences in European cities, it presents a wide range of engaged scholarly researches that investigate whether, how and to what extent urban gardening is able to contrast inequalities and disparities in living conditions.
This book examines how material systems such as transportation, energy and
housing form the basis of human freedom. It begins by explaining this linkage by
defining reliance systems, the basic way in which we become free to act not only
as a result of our bodily capabilities or the absence of barriers but because of
collectively produced systems. As virtually all of us rely on such systems –
water, food, energy, healthcare, etc. – for freedom, the book argues that they
must form the centre of a twenty-first-century politics. Rather than envisioning
a healthier politics of reliance systems exclusively through rights or justice
or deliberative democracy, we argue that they must become the centre of a new
social contract. More specifically, we discuss the politics of reliance systems
as a set of spatial contracts. Spatial contracts are the full set of politics
governing any given system, and as such they are historically, geographically
and system specific. In order to fully understand spatial contracts, we develop
an analytical framework focused on three areas. Seeing like a system shows how
systems thinking can enable us to avoid ideological approaches to understanding
given spatial contracts, repurposing key ideas from mainstream and heterodox
economics. Seeing like a settlement shows how systems come together in space to
form human settlements, and exposes key political divides between urban and
rural, and formal and informal. Adapting Iris Marion Young’s five faces of
oppression enables an understanding of the specific ways in which reliance
systems can be exploitative.
This book explores contemporary urban experiences connected to practices of sharing and collaboration. Part of a growing discussion on the cultural meaning and the politics of urban commons, it uses examples from Europe and Latin America to support the view that a world of mutual support and urban solidarity is emerging today in, against, and beyond existing societies of inequality. In such a world, people experience the potentialities of emancipation activated by concrete forms of space commoning. By focusing on concrete collective experiences of urban space appropriation and participatory design experiments this book traces differing, but potentially compatible, trajectories through which common space (or space-as-commons) becomes an important factor in social change. In the everydayness of self-organized neighborhoods, in the struggles for justice in occupied public spaces, in the emergence of “territories in resistance,” and in dissident artistic practices of collaborative creation, collective inventiveness produces fragments of an emancipated society.
As the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire of 14 June 2017 has slowly revealed a shadowy background of outsourcing and deregulation, and a council turning a blind eye to health and safety concerns, many questions need answers. Stuart Hodkinson has those answers. Safe as Houses weaves together Stuart’s research over the last decade with residents’ groups in council regeneration projects across London to provide the first comprehensive account of how Grenfell happened and how it could easily have happened in multiple locations across the country. It draws on examples of unsafe housing either refurbished or built by private companies under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) to show both the terrible human consequences of outsourcing and deregulation and how the PFI has enabled developers, banks and investors to profiteer from highly lucrative, taxpayer-funded contracts. The book also provides shocking testimonies of how councils and other public bodies have continuously sided with their private partners, doing everything in their power to ignore, deflect and even silence those who speak out. The book concludes that the only way to end the era of unsafe regeneration and housing provision is to end the disastrous regime of self-regulation. This means strengthening safety laws, creating new enforcement agencies independent of government and industry, and replacing PFI and similar models of outsourcing with a new model of public housing that treats the provision of shelter as ‘a social service’ democratically accountable to its residents.
Manchester: Something rich and strange challenges us to see the quintessential
post-industrial city in new ways. Bringing together twenty-three diverse writers
and a wide range of photographs of Greater Manchester, it argues that how we see
the city can have a powerful effect on its future – an urgent question given how
quickly the urban core is being transformed. The book uses sixty different words
to speak about the diversity of what we think of as Manchester – whether the
chimneys of its old mills, the cobbles mostly hidden under the tarmac, the
passages between terraces, or the everyday act of washing clothes in a
laundrette. Unashamedly down to earth in its focus, this book makes the case for
a renewed imaginative relationship that recognises and champions the fact that
we’re all active in the making and unmaking of urban spaces.