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The City, RevisitedUrban Theory from Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York$
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Dennis R. Judd and Dick Simpson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816665754

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816665754.001.0001

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Radical Uniqueness and the Flight from Urban Theory

Radical Uniqueness and the Flight from Urban Theory

(p.186) 9 Radical Uniqueness and the Flight from Urban Theory
The City, Revisited

Robert A. Beauregard

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter uses the notion of radical uniqueness to discuss how city-based theories, regardless of the city in which they originate, are antithetical to the larger urban project. The concept of radical uniqueness views each city as unique, and thus cannot be compared to another. With comparison impossible, only city-specific theory would remain; that is, theory focused solely on the conditions and dynamics within particular places. The chapter rejects city-based urban theories, describing them as theoretically problematic: flirting with a fictional radical uniqueness, embracing an unreflective naturalism, undermining inclusivity, distorting space and place, and abetting an uncritical theoretical pluralism even as they resist it. Too many different types of cities are omitted from such formulations. In fact, the whole approach has an exclusive quality that divides cities and theorists into those who live and write about “significant” places and those who do not.

Keywords:   urban theory, urban studies, cities, radical uniqueness

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