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5.0 out of 5 stars A Well-Written, Easy-to-Read Analysis of Modern London, 18 April 2004
Unequal City is a broad, well-written, easy-to-read analysis of the dramatic economic and social changes that have taken place within London over the past forty years. The debate on how and why London has changed is well argued, with up-to-date statistical evidence backing up many different points of view. The argument benefits significantly from over eighty figures, comparing data from hundreds of sources. The bibliography of over six hundred publications gives further evidence to the book's broad considerations of all opinions of the undeniable, observable effects of globalisation in London, both economically and socially. By focusing on London, Hamnett tries to highlight the general processes occurring within the 'global city'. He regularly compares London to New York and other Western metropolises.
Hamnett starts by describing the changes in London's economy from industrial to post-industrial city since the 1960s, and then continues for much of the rest of the book explaining how this has affected London's social, racial, occupational and class structure. He talks of the rise of the new middle-class, multi-ethnic London, transformations in the housing market (including gentrification) and the consequences of social deprivation and exclusion. Each chapter provides a different aspect or approach to the widening inequalities in London. The chapters are well-linked and make the book flow well. He regularly links back to previous chapters, and even argues against them by providing contradictory evidence. By doing so, he provides a generally balanced and well-argued debate. Nonetheless, Hamnett does give particular emphasis to (his) view that cities like London are becoming more professionalized with a shrinking manual workforce. Hamnett claims that the poor are being pushed out of London as the growing middle class is pushing up house prices. This is a contrasting view to much other literature on London and global cities, which is often of the view that London is becoming more socially polarised, with little overall increase in wealth.
Hamnett's statistical evidence is generally the latest available and most of the quoted sources were written within the last few years. Much data is from the Greater London Authority, publications such as The Economist and the 1991 Census. These are trustworthy, quality sources, which are readily available (many online) for further investigation by the reader. It is unfortunate that the 2001 Census data was not used in this book, as many of the other statistics are from the period 1995-2001. The graphs and tables help the message and allow the comparison of data from different sources. One small criticism here is the lack of colour used in the graphs, which are sometimes unclear, especially where bar graphs rely on several shades of grey. Maps show the geography of London's inequality, but could also benefit from colour as many are hard to decipher with different types of lines showing levels of deprivation, house price changes or growth in the middle-class. The use of lines doesn't allow the maps to be used to their best potential in showing the intensity of deprivation in areas such as Lewisham or Barking & Dagenham.
To stimulate the reader, Hamnett not only uses graphical evidence, but uses media headlines, evidence from films and quotes from books to illustrate his points. These make the book "lighter" reading and more enjoyable for students, or members of the general educated public, but perhaps at the expense of the in-depth analysis required by academics. Academics may find the book too broad and general, as it fails to look greatly at any one specific aspect of the inequalities. He also refers to high profile news stories, such as the Damilola Taylor case as evidence of social deprivation and crime, which helps the reader to sympathise with Hamnett's arguments.
The book is recommended for students of geography, sociology and economics as it draws together a vast array of sources and arguments under one cover. The well referenced bibliography provides many sources for further reading. The book is also suitable for reading by the educated general public (especially for those residing in London) who may find Hamnett's analysis of London enjoyable, interesting and challenging. The book is very current, and hopefully new, updated editions will be released over the coming years to allow readers to keep up with the latest changes in areas such as the rapidly changing housing market. Overall, the book is a clear, stimulating read which is good value for money.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unequal City, 28 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Unequal City: London in the Global Arena (Paperback)
Been on my to read list since I bought a copy in January 2004. One of the core texts for the courses offered as part of the Contemporary London studies programme at Birkbeck College. I would recommend it for anybody who is interested in the political,economic and social theories that drive London.
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5.0 out of 5 stars very good, 27 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Unequal City: London in the Global Arena (Paperback)
It is almost a new book, very good.
This book is very useful for economic geography study and urban geography study.
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Unequal City: London in the Global Arena
Unequal City: London in the Global Arena by Chris Hamnett (Paperback - 26 Jun. 2003)
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