Securing Precarious Urban Futures

  • Alexander J. Means
Part of the New Frontiers in Education, Culture, and Politics book series (NFECP)


September 11, 2001 and the financial crisis of 2008 mark two transformative moments in the politics of security in the United States. On one hand, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11 ushered in a stunning expansion of state security. We saw this in the passage of the USA Patriot Act; the creation of the Department of Homeland Security; the pursuit of the global War on Terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond; and the diversion of trillions of public dollars into the war industry and projects of domestic surveillance and policing. On the other hand, ongoing instabilities in global capitalism and continued fallout from the 2008 economic crisis have made visible a stark erosion of social and material security in contemporary life. While Wall Street and the corporate sector have resumed minting new billionaires and posting record profits (the top 1% now has a higher net worth than the bottom 90%), millions have been left with foreclosed homes, debilitating debt, vanishing jobs, and stagnating wages. Concurrently, a regressive politics of disinvestment and austerity continues to hollow-out commitments to public infrastructure, health care, child development, education, and labor and environmental protections further eroding the basis for securing human well-being and the future.


Public School Child Poverty Crime Control Charter School Human Security 
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  1. 9.
    Darling-Hammond’s (2010) book The Flat World and Education, offers a rational defense of liberal and social democratic approaches to educational policy and public schooling. However, while arguing for educational investments and liberal commitments to fairness and equity, Darling-Hammond largely reproduces the neoliberal viewpoint that education is or should be valued primarily according to its capacity to serve economic ends. In contrast, I subscribe to the values articulated within progressive and critical traditions articulated by the likes of John Dewey (1944), Paulo Freire (1998), and Henry Giroux (1983) that situate the purpose of education within the terms of human development, social transformation, and democracy as opposed to the reductive logic of global economic competition.Google Scholar

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© Alexander J. Means 2013

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  • Alexander J. Means

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