Gender and the city: urban politics revisited

  • Liz Bondi
  • Linda Peake
Part of the Women in Society book series


This chapter examines the importance of gender relations in urban politics. During the last decade, the concept ‘urban’ has been the subject of extensive debate. Previously, cities had often been classified according to the industries located within their boundaries or hinterlands. This approach presupposed a direct connection between local productive activities and the sustenance of the local, urban population. However, the city is no longer the spatial unit within which productive activities are organised: in both developed and developing countries the organisation of industrial production has expanded to the regional, national or international scale. In other words, cities are embedded in, and sustained by, economic systems that extend far beyond their boundaries. But cities remain the places where the great majority of the populations of developed countries, and a growing proportion of the populations of developing countries, live. This observation led the neo-Marxist theorist Castells (1976, 1977, 1978) to advance the persuasive argument that it is more appropriate to consider the city as the locus, or spatial unit of the ‘reproduction of labour power’, than as the spatial unit of production. Subsequent work in urban studies has been strongly influenced by Castells’ approach: the notion that processes involved in the reproduction of labour power are the key to understanding the structure of, and activity within, urban areas underlies much recent research (see, for example, contributions to Harloe, 1981 and Harloe and Lebas, 1981). However, critiques of this approach are now emerging, to which this chapter aims to contribute (also see Klausner, 1986; Preteceille, 1986).


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Further reading

  1. Antipode (1984) Special issue on ‘Women and the Built Environment’, vol. 16(3).Google Scholar
  2. McDowell, L. (1983) ‘Towards an Understanding of the Gender Division of Urban Space’, Environment and Planning D., Society and Space, vol. 1, pp. 59–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Mackenzie, S. and Rose, D. (1983) ‘Industrial Change, the Domestic and Home Life’, in Anderson, J., Duncan, S. and Hudson, R. (eds) Redundant Spaces? Social Change and Industrial Decline in Cities and Regions (London: Academic Press).Google Scholar
  4. Martin, J. and Roberts, C. (1984) (eds) Women and Employment: A Lifetime Perspective (Department of Employment and Office of Population Censuses and Surveys) (London: HMSO).Google Scholar
  5. Phillips, A. (1987) Divided Loyalties: Dilemmas of Sex and Class (London: Virago).Google Scholar
  6. Randall, V. (1982) Women and Politics (London: Macmillan).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Siltanen, J. and Stanworth, M. (1984) (eds) Women and the Public Sphere (London: Hutchinson).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Liz Bondi and Linda Peake 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liz Bondi
  • Linda Peake

There are no affiliations available

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