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Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference

ISBN: 978-1-55786-681-3
480 pages
January 1997, Wiley-Blackwell
Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference (1557866813) cover image


This book engages with the politics of social and environmental justice, and seeks new ways to think about the future of urbanization in the twenty-first century. It establishes foundational concepts for understanding how space, time, place and nature - the material frames of daily life - are constituted and represented through social practices, not as separate elements but in relation to each other. It describes how geographical differences are produced, and shows how they then become fundamental to the exploration of political, economic and ecological alternatives to contemporary life.

The book is divided into four parts. Part I describes the problematic nature of action and analysis at different scales of time and space, and introduces the reader to the modes of dialectical thinking and discourse which are used throughout the remainder of the work. Part II examines how "nature" and "environment" have been understood and valued in relation to processes of social change and seeks, from this basis, to make sense of contemporary environmental issues.

Part III, is a wide-ranging discussion of history, geography and culture, explores the meaning of the social "production" of space and time, and clarifies problems related to "otherness" and "difference". The final part of the book deploys the foundational arguments the author has established to consider contemporary problems of social justice that have resulted from recent changes in geographical divisions of labor, in the environment, and in the pace and quality of urbanization.

Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference speaks to a wide readership of students of social, cultural and spatial theory and of the dynamics of contemporary life. It is a convincing demonstration that it is both possible and necessary to value difference and to seek a just social order.

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Table of Contents

Thoughts for a Prologue.


Part I: Orientations.

1. Militant Particularism and Global Ambition.

2. Dialectics.

3. A Cautionary Tale on Internal Relations.

4. The Dialectics of Discourse.

5. Historical Agency and the Loci of Social Change.

Part II: The Nature of Environment.


6. The Domination of Nature and its Discontents.

7. Valuing Nature.

8. The Dialectics of Social and Environmental Change.

Part III: Space, Time and Place.


9. The Social Construction of Space and Time.

10. The Currency of Space-Time.

11. From Space to Place and Back Again.

Part IV: Justice, Difference and Politics.


12. Class Relations, Social Justice and the Political Geography of Difference.

13. The Environment of Justice.

14. Possible Urban Worlds.

Thoughts for an Epilogue.



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Author Information

David Harvey is Professor of Geography at the Johns Hopkins University. From 1987-1993 he was Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford. He received the Outstanding Contributor Award from the American Association of Geographers in 1980; the Anders Retzius Gold Medal from the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography in 1989; the Patron's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society and the Vautrin Lud Prize in 1995.

His books include The Explanation in Geography (1969); Social Justice and the City (Blackwell, 1973, new edition 1988); The Limits to Capital (Blackwell, 1982); The Urban Experience (Blackwell, 1989) and The Condition of Postmodernity (Blackwell, 1989).

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The Wiley Advantage

  • The world's leading geographer establishes new foundations for the understanding of social life at different times and different places.

  • Reintroduces concepts of value into postmodern social theory.

  • Investigates the unjust access of peoples of different countries and of different classes within the same country to environmental, economic and social justice.

  • Draws on insights from numerous disciplines, including geography, philosophy, literary criticism, and sociology.

  • Theoretically innovative, accessibly written, and illustrated with numerous real-world examples.
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"As always with Harvey's work, this is a book rich in ideas and dense in argument... It should be widely read and argued over by all of us in the urban and environmental field." –P. Healey, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design

"This surely is a most important book and one to turn to again and again as David Harvey's work never fails to be challenging." –Linda McDowell, University of Cambridge

"... Harvey's writing remains enviably readable and maintains a compelling sense of urgency and purpose." –Steve Hinchliffe, Open University

"... this book deserves a very wide readership, even among those who are more practically or even policy oriented. It is a rich and creative text, which confronts some of the biggest social and political questions we face today." –Allan Cochrane, The Open University

"As a contribution to the development of geographical scholarship in the historical materialist tradition, this is a landmark volume..." –David M. Smith, Queen Mary and Westfield College

"Clearly, this book is a tour de force ... Its breadth of reference makes almost every page interesting and provocative." –Alan M. Hay, The Geographical Journal

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