Manuscript workshop for Sanford Ikeda.

A City Cannot Be a Work of Art:  Learning Economics & Social Theory from Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs is a legend in the field of urbanism and is best known for challenging and profoundly influencing urban planning and design in the late 20th century.  This book, however, is about what we can and should learn from her major works about economics and social theory.  These are subjects close to Jacobs’s heart and central to her most important criticisms of and proposals for public policy but are largely unappreciated by even her most devoted followers.  It develops Jacobs’s argument that “a city cannot be a work of art” by rigorously connecting her celebrated way of looking at and thinking about cities to her understanding of how economic development and social change take place, and to her arguments about the limits of deliberate urban design by both government and business.  It argues that the theory of the market process, a separate but parallel development in economic thought, complements Jacobs’s theory of urban processes.  Connecting these two ways of understanding social processes highlights how the work of economists (especially those interested in competition and entrepreneurship) and of urbanists (especially admirers of Jane Jacobs’s ideas) can usefully inform each other.  At the same time, this book offers new theoretical, historical, and policy analyses of the nature and significance of cities from a Jacobs-cum-market-process perspective that are more realistic and more coherent than standard accounts by economists and urbanists.

Event Contacts
Kaveh Pourvand