The first half of the 21st century is anticipated to be a period of continuing large-scale urbanization in the developing world, with much of this occurring in Asian countries, especially China and India. This fundamental, on-going change in Asia presents, on the one hand, prospects for economic prosperity, new visions of an urban future and the potential for local democratization, and on the other, challenges of increasing economic and social inequities, increased resource consumption and environmental degradation. Underlying all these problems and possibilities are fundamental research challenges for scholars to consider.
On February 27, 2013, urban scholar John Friedmann (UBC School of Community and Regional Planning) reflected on the broad topic of urbanization in Asia, highlighting issues of environmental degradation, socioeconomic inequality, and local democracy.
The talk was hosted by the Liu Institute’s Comparative Urban Studies Network, in partnership with the Institute of Asian Research Asian Urbanisms Cluster.
Precarious employment is increasing in the Hamilton and Greater Toronto Area and its harmful effects on individuals, families, and community life are documented in a recently released research report. On the podcast, The City hears from labour economist Wayne Lewchuk and lead author of a research study that explores poverty, employment precarity, household wellbeing, and community involvement in southern Ontario. The report seeks to broaden the public discussion around poverty, and implicate deteriorating work conditions as a major aspect of poverty and social wellbeing.
The report is a collaboration between McMaster University, United Way of Toronto, and the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario. It’s More Than Poverty: Employment Precarity and Household Wellbeing examines the dramatic changes in precarious employment over the last few decades, revealing that only sixty percent of all workers in the Hamilton and Greater Toronto region have stable, secure jobs. In addition to looking at the impact of precarious employment on individuals, the report also looks at its harmful effect on families and communities.
Wayne Lewchuk also discusses how the economic and labour landscape in Hamilton and the Toronto region has drastically changed over the last 30 years. While the Fordist era was characterized by mass employment (for white men, that is), mass consumption, and an interventionist state, the post-Fordist era is notable for labour market deregulation, income/wage polarization, and the subsumption of full employment as a policy goal in favour of labour flexibility and the perceived demands of business and corporate interests.
While this report focuses on the Greater Toronto region, it raises broader questions about employment security, social inequality, and community wellbeing for cities across Canada and beyond.
Wayne Lewchuk is professor of labour studies and economics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Social mix is a euphemism for destroying low-income communities. This is a community that fought for – and won – the only safe injection site in North America. This is a community that had to occupy a Police Board meeting in order to get the Police Board to put out the same reward for the missing women that it put out for garage robberies on the Westside. This is a community that had to fight for seven years to get a community centre like other people have. This is a community that had to camp out on a beach for a whole summer in order to get a waterfront park like other communities have. This community has a history of fighting for human rights, and the City destroys that by condo-fying the whole [neighbourhood] and displacing low income people – that will be destroying one of the most valuable assets it has.
–Jean Swanson, Carnegie Community Action Project
Vancouver’s Chinatown is undergoing increasingly rapid gentrification. The Carnegie Community Action Project’s Jean Swanson (author, Poorbashing: The Politics of Exclusion) discusses why a significant influx of condominiums and high-end retail are threatening to displace the neighbourhood’s low-income residents – and why the city is approving these major developments before the completion of the Downtown Eastside local area plan. You can check out a past podcast, From Poor to Yuppie: Artists, Boutiques, and Neighbourhood Change, if you are interested in hearing more about gentrification and social dislocation in the Downtown Eastside.
On the second half of the program, we hear why the independently-owned Festival Cinemas has been sold to Cineplex. We talk with co-owner Leonard Schein about why he is calling it quits, the challenge to operate cinemas independently, and what he believes the City and province should do to help arts and culture thrive/survive in Vancouver.
On November 1st, 2012, Loic Wacquant gave a public lecture organized by the University of British Columbia’s Liu Institute for Global Studies and the Department of Geography. His talk is entitled, “The Production and Penalization of the Precariat in the Neoliberal Age.”
Loic Wacquant is professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley and a researcher with the European Centre of Sociology and Political Science in Paris. He is the author of many books and articles, including Urban Outcasts: A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality, Prisons of Poverty, and Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity.
Loic Wacquant is professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley and a researcher with the European Centre of Sociology and Political Science in Paris. His research focuses on comparative urban marginality with a focus on Chicago’s South Side and Paris’s racialized urban periphery. Wacquant’s research also looks at broader issues of urban poverty, ethno-racial domination, the penal state, and social theory. He is the author of many books and articles, including Urban Outcasts: A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality, Prisons of Poverty, and Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity.
On November 1st, 2012, Loic Wacquant gave a public lecture organized by the University of British Columbia’s Liu Institute for Global Studies and the Department of Geography. His lecture is entitled, “The Production and Penalization of the Precariat in the Neoliberal Age.” This podcast is part one of a two-part series.
On the podcast, urban sociologist Daniyal Zuberi discusses the importance of social policy for quality of life for the working class and working poor in Canadian and US cities. The conversation centres around the socio-economic conditions of hotel workers in both Vancouver and Seattle and healthcare workers in Vancouver.
Professor Zuberi’s research is critically important because it evaluates how social and economic policies enacted at all levels of government – national, subnational, and local – ‘touch down’ at the urban scale and how policymaking at all levels can be implicated in shaping city life. Professor Zuberi joined me in the CiTR studio for a recorded interview in July 2012.
Dr. Zuberi is Associate Professor of Social Policy at the University of Toronto, and he is a research fellow at Harvard University. His focus has been on Canada and US comparative research around labour, education, health, immigration, poverty, and social welfare.
He is published widely on these topics and is author of Differences That Matter: Social Policy and the Working Poor in the United States and Canada. He has two forthcoming books, Outsourced: How Modern Hospitals are Hurting Workers and Endangering Patients and Schooling the Next Generation: How Urban Elementary Schools Build the Resiliency of Immigrant Children.