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This subject examines differences in diverse people’s experiences of urban life, the opportunities and challenges it offers them, and their ability to shape the city. We will examine how social differences such as class, gender, ethnicity, race, and disability have been understood in urban studies from varied theoretical perspectives, including liberalism, Marxism, feminism and postcolonialism. We will explore these themes with case studies from many cities around the world, with a particular interest in Melbourne, where students will undertake independent field research. Specific issues to be investigated include: the social and cultural lives of rich, poor, middle-class and gentrifying neighbourhoods; the negotiation of gender roles and relations in the private and public spheres of the city; intergenerational conflicts in urban housing and labour markets; inequalities in the spatial distribution of urban infrastructures such as roads, transport, education and health services; racial segregation and conflict; the displacement and marginalization of Aboriginal communities in Australian cities, and their activism. Students completing the subject will demonstrate in-depth understanding of how social inequalities develop and manifest in cities; but also, how cities can become places of resistance, inter-cultural encounter and transformation.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who complete this subject will:
- Recognise key debates in academia, media and policy circles about the challenges of social diversity in contemporary cities
- Distinguish between feminist, postcolonial, and Marxist approaches to thinking about questions of social class, gender, ability, age, race and ethnicity in urban contexts
- Investigate how the spaces inside cities, their built environments, and the features of their neighbourhoods and communities, enhance or limit the opportunities of different social groups
- Apply critical theory to analyse cases from cities around the world, primarily from developed countries, with a focus on the city of Melbourne
Upon successful completion of this subject, students will have:
• developed their ability to evaluate critically different theories and analytical approaches;
• improved their capacity to translate this knowledge into applied analysis;
• gathered and created new information about urban conditions; and
• improved their communication skills in public presentation about their own research project and findings.
Last updated: 22 November 2023