Recently Observed Polarising Tendencies and Australian Cities

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Abstract:

Recent research and writing about social and spatial polarisation in Australian cities is reviewed in a five-part study. The first part outlines the international context in which Australian urban restructuring and polarisation is occurring. The second considers the consequences of structural adjustment in Australia in terms of changes to the distribution of national income and social costs. There is an apparent incongruity of sharper spatial disparities developing during a decade (1982—94) when the living standards of the poor were maintained at 1982 levels by the social security system under federal Labor governments.Part three surveys several recent that explicitly set out to measure shifts in urban spatial inequality, and thereby help to clarify aspects of the debate about social and spatial polarisation under Australian conditions. Part four sets out to show how both the construction of this debate, and the response of governments to urban restructuring in Australia, are implicitly grounded in three competing theoretical frameworks: ‘post-marxist’ political economy; neoliberalism; discourses of identity and difference. Finally, practical and ethical issues are raised that stem from the triumph of neoliberal ideology over alternative visions of the ‘companionable state’.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8470.00025

Affiliations: Reader in Geography at the University of Adelaide, SA, 5005

Publication date: November 1, 1997

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