Storper Weighs In on the Battle for the Bay Area’s Soul

Professor Michael Storper of UCLA Luskin Urban Planning speaks about the “contest for the heart and soul of the Bay Area” in a wide-ranging interview with Public Knowledge. Storper says the region’s rich history of social connectivity has underpinned its economic success. Now, in the face of rising inequality, “Silicon Valley capitalism must be more than about disrupting markets and daily life.” The Bay Area must draw on its “deep intellectual and humanistic traditions,” he said, “and let’s hope that it is the beginning of a new wave of balancing the advantages of the Information Age with a new public space.”

 


 

Shackling the Leviathan Balancing the citizenry’s wants with the state’s needs is critical for a successful society, says 2018 Perloff lecturer Daron Acemoglu

By Zev Hurwitz

Governments with too much or too little power can be problematic. Just ask Daron Acemoglu, the 2018 Perloff lecturer at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

In his remarks on May 8, 2018, at the Luskin School, Acemoglu reviewed some of his most recent work about institutions and societal outcomes. The event shared a title with his upcoming book, “The Narrow Corridor to Liberty: The Red Queen and the Struggle of State Against Society,” which he is co-authoring with James A. Robinson.

When it comes to issues of authority, Acemoglu said, striking the right balance is key. Too much or too little state power can lead to catastrophic violence and warfare.

“A lot of social and political theory is built around avoiding these sorts of scare scenarios,” he said.

At one extreme, a society where the government loses its means to govern can lead to chaos. Acemoglu shared a picture of the decimated city of Mosul, Iraq, following an ISIS takeover in 2014.

“This is an iconic case of what happens when a government’s law enforcement function collapses and anarchy prevails,” Acemoglu said.

On the flip side, governments with too much power can perpetrate the chaos directly. Such is the case with the state-led persecution of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

“What’s remarkable about this is that it wasn’t caused by the collapse of the state but was actually perpetrated by the state,” he said.

Another example of a government’s unchecked power, Acemoglu said, is China’s use of mass-pooled data to maintain social order.

Acemoglu’s upcoming book discusses the notion of “Shackling the Leviathan.” The Leviathan, as he describes it, is a large-scale controlling state entity, either a governmental institution or a ruler. “Shackling” the Leviathan is the process by which the state’s non-elite public obtains control of the Leviathan’s operations by instituting checks and balances. Acemoglu cites the United States and United Kingdom as nations that have successfully tamed the Leviathan.

“Once you create an environment in a society where its citizens shackle the Leviathan, not only does this pave the way for the emergence of liberty, but it fundamentally changes the nature of politics,” he said.

Even in modern times, some societies have managed to exist largely in peace with either extreme or absent governing structures. The Tiv in Nigeria operate without any centralized government, Acemoglu noted.

For states that successfully shackle the Leviathan, Acemoglu says, the challenge becomes maintaining the status quo. The “Red Queen” refers to a line in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” in which the monarchic leader notes, “It takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place.” Maintaining such a balance between state and citizen control is often a work in progress, and a painful one at that.

“You have to keep on running,” he said.

Acemoglu is an economics professor at MIT focusing on political economy. His prior work includes research on the role of institutions in economic outcomes for various countries.

The Harvey S. Perloff Lecture Series is named for the founding dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, which has since evolved, in part, into the Luskin School. The event was sponsored by UCLA Luskin Urban Planning and Public Policy and by Global Public Affairs.

Urban Planning Professor Michael Storper introduced the speaker by noting similarities between Acemoglu’s lecture and Perloff’s own work in regional economics.

“There’s a kind of interesting continuity over time with the themes of this lecture,” Storper said. “Institutions are the foundations of economic and social work.”

Nearly 75 students and faculty members were in attendance at the evening lecture, which was followed by a reception.

Global Public Affairs Celebrates 2017 Graduates

Graduating students in the Global Public Affairs program at UCLA Luskin received their certificates at a reception on May 30, 2017. Speakers included faculty advisers Michael Storper and Steve Commins, as well as UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura. Afterward, the class of 2017 gathered with professors, staff members, friends and other supporters for group photos.

Photos by Les Dunseith

 

GPA Grad Night 2017

John Friedmann, the ‘Father of Urban Planning,’ Dies at 91 World-renowned urban theorist was a central figure in founding what later became the UCLA Luskin Department of Urban Planning

By Stan Paul

John Friedmann, internationally renowned pioneer in urban theory and planning and a central figure in the founding of what is today the Department of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, died Sunday in Vancouver, B.C., June 11, 2017, following a short illness. He was 91.

Friedmann, who was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1926, came to UCLA in 1969 at the invitation of Harvey S. Perloff, who had recently been appointed founding dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Perloff, an economist by trade and himself a pioneer and legendary figure in the field of planning, was Friedmann’s dissertation adviser at the University of Chicago. Perloff asked Friedmann to head a new program in urban planning at UCLA.

“Together they brought in a number of ‘big thinkers’ to be the core faculty of the emerging urban planning department, including Ed Soja, Dolores Hayden and Peter Marris,” said Michael Storper, a longtime friend and faculty member in urban planning. Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development at UCLA Luskin with appointments at the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris and the London School of Economics, added that Friedmann and Perloff were among those who published and edited the early fundamental textbooks in the emerging field of regional planning.

“This is a momentous loss,” Storper said. “He brought a real global outlook and sensibility to UCLA.”

Other friends and faculty at UCLA Luskin expressed similar thoughts about Friedmann.

“I consider John Friedmann as the father of our urban planning department — a huge figure whose vision has guided our department’s structure, overall mission and social justice goals,” said Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, associate dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and professor of urban planning. “Aside from being a brilliant scholar, John was an amazing human being.

“I know that I am not the only one who has benefited tremendously from his kindness, mentorship and generosity of spirit,” she said. “John lives in our thoughts and minds. John is UCLA Urban Planning.”

Martin Wachs, distinguished professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, agreed.

“While many people contributed to the evolution of urban planning at UCLA, John Friedmann is universally recognized as THE father of the department,” Wachs said. “He was a person of unbounded energy and unlimited curiosity.”

John Friedmann at the 40th anniversary of the Department of Urban Planning, in 2010.

Friedmann, who earned his Ph.D. in 1955 in an interdisciplinary program of research and education in planning at the University of Chicago, served as department chair of the urban planning program for a total of 14 years during his tenure at UCLA. He retired from UCLA in 1996 and lived in Vancouver for many years.

His decades-long career included serving as a member of the U.S. occupation forces at the end of World War II, and his wide-ranging interests took him around the world. After his first 14 years in Vienna, he listed Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Venezuela, Chile, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada as stopping points along his journey as a scholar. During his long and life of learning and teaching, he helped establish and maintain an intellectual lineage and link to generations of world-class scholars in the field.

Vinit Mukhija, the current chair of the Department of Urban Planning, said his own dissertation adviser, Bish Sanyal, now at MIT, completed his dissertation under Friedmann’s guidance.

“I’ve felt a strong bond with UCLA Urban Planning because of this connection,” Mukhija said. “John’s ideas on social justice and planning have influenced me deeply and will continue to play a very important role in the training and education of planners at UCLA and around the globe.”

Friedmann also was the first distinguished lecturer of the Institute of Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin. In May of 2016, Friedmann delivered a lecture titled, “The Ruse of Reason: Poverty and Personal Freedoms in the People’s Republic of China 1950-2015.”

In his biographical chapter in the recently published book, “Encounters in Planning Thought: 16 Autobiographical Essays from Thinkers in Spatial Planning” (Routledge, 2017), Friedmann writes, “I confess a weakness for Chinese philosophy.” The author of “China’s Urban Transition” (University of Minnesota Press, 2005) explained: “I believe this metaphysics has a great deal of explanatory power … I believe it to be useful also in the Western world where we are more accustomed to think in terms of either/or rather than both/and. It is particularly applicable in planning conflicts.”

At the May 2016 talk, Ananya Roy, director of the Institute on Inequality and Demoracy and professor of urban planning and social welfare at Luskin, introduced the prolific author as a “legend in urban planning.”

“For those of us who were trained at other urban planning programs, we were raised on the writings of John Friedmann,” Roy said. “His scholarship, for example, the analysis of world formation, remains foundational to the ways in which we think about cities and metropolitan regions around the world.”

Before the talk, Friedmann sat for a video interview and was asked about the evolution of urban planning at UCLA.

“The vision that I had was that planning was not just a profession,” he said. “We had to begin to theorize about planning, to start thinking, what is planning? What should we expect from this social science-based profession that isn’t simply urban design or land use planning, but goes far beyond that.”

When asked about the connection between planning theory and social justice, Friedmann said, “It’s all value-based, so we have to think very carefully about what sort of values we want to further in the world around us and the world in which we interact. The oldest one is social justice and the whole question of equality and inequality and how to have a more egalitarian society that is inclusive of all different modes of living.”

During his decades-long career, which includes Honorary Professor at the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, Friedmann authored more than a dozen books, co-edited nearly a dozen more and wrote almost 200 other scholarly works, including articles and book chapters.

As one of the most highly cited researchers in the planning field — his citations number more than 50,000 — he is best known for his work on regional development planning, world city hypothesis, empowerment in planning and planning theory. His most recent book, “Insurgencies: Essays in Planning Theory” (Routledge, 2011), is a collection of his most influential writing over nearly four decades and is summarized as “Covering transactive planning, radical planning, the concept of “the good city,” civil society, rethinking poverty, and the diversity of planning cultures.”

Awards for his scholarship include the prestigious Distinguished Planning Educator Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) and the same organization established the John Friedmann Book award in his honor in 2013. In 2006 he received the first UN-HABITAT Lecture Award organized through the Global Research Network on Human Settlements, and, is Honorary Foreign Advisor of the Chinese Academy of Urban Planning and Design. In 2008 he was the Harvey S. Perloff Visiting Professor in the UCLA Department of Urban Planning.

He also received honorary doctorates from the Catholic University of Chile, the University of Dortmund in Germany and York University, Ontario.

His personal interests, which included painting, music and poetry, “never flagged, as he saw these as essential to cultivating a sensibility of how things work together to create a whole out of the sum of parts, among which were statistics, economics, politics and history,” Storper said of his colleague.

Friedmann is survived by his wife of many years, Leonie Sandercock, who is a professor at the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia; his daughter, Manuela Friedmann; and his brother, Martin Friedmann and family.

Full Statements and Tributes from his Colleagues and Friends

Friedmann’s influence and legacy also lives on through generations of scholars and students at UCLA a number of whom commented on his life, legacy and impact, not only on urban planning but on their person and professional lives.

Martin Wachs, distinguished professor emeritus of urban planning

“While many people contributed to the evolution of Urban Planning at UCLA John Friedmann is universally recognized as THE father of the department. Brought to UCLA by Dean Harvey Perloff in 1969, John served as Department Chair during the department’s most formative years and shaped it intellectually in many ways. He was a person of unbounded energy and unlimited curiosity.

“In the most important telephone call of my career, John invited me to consider moving to UCLA and when I did he was my mentor during my early years here. I was a civil engineer interested in transportation and he was a planning theorist interested in regions. He created opportunities for me to broaden my perspective while staying focused on my interests.  Busy teaching, writing, and traveling, he always had time for leisurely but substantive conversations about planning and about pedagogy. Our department was his extended family and those who new and worked with him all feel that we have lost a close relative.”

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, professor of urban planning, associate dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and associate provost, Academic Planning, UCLA

“I consider John Friedmann as the father of our Urban Planning department, a huge figure whose vision has guided our department’s structure, overall mission, and social justice goals. [It’s been] twenty-one years after John “retired” from UCLA at the age of 70, and we are still holding our quarterly departmental Assemblies, our curriculum and admissions committees where faculty, staff, and students meet to decide all major departmental decisions — all legacies of John’s participatory planning process.

“John has not only shaped urban planning here at UCLA but has in many ways transformed and elevated the field nationally and internationally. His concepts, hypotheses and writings about the ‘global city,’ ‘planning in the public domain’ and ‘radical planning’ propelled the rather obscure field of urban planning forward and have been tremendously influential in the social sciences.

“But aside from being a brilliant scholar, John was an amazing human being. I know that I am not the only one who has benefited tremendously from his kindness, mentorship and generosity of spirit.

“John lives in our thoughts and minds. John is UCLA Urban Planning.”

Stephen Commins, lecturer in urban planning

“John was unique. He was my chair, exceptionally rigorous, fair and humorous all wrapped together. He pushed, prodded, provoked and challenged, and also supported me. John was the engine that built up the department when he was chair. He put in incredible hours as a chair, as an instructor, as a chair and mentor, and yet also managed to find time to produce a range of publications. When students would quote something from his earlier work, he might say that was his Marxist, or Buddhist, or Anarchist phase … that jest was really about John being heterodox, not willing to accept simplistic ‘left/right’ or ‘top/bottom’ dichotomies in planning theory or in how we were to explore the world. I treasured that.

“When I was Director for Policy and Planning at World Vision International (1990-96) after finishing my Ph.D., our Latin America VP was a Brazilian who was immersed in liberation theology (before John Paul II killed so much of it). Manfred wanted to meet John, as he was thrilled by John’s book on Empowerment. We arranged a meeting at the Faculty Center, which started off a bit stiff/formal until John started chatting in Portuguese (I couldn’t follow, of course), and that opening up with Manfred’s home language burst open the conversation, which then ranged across languages and ideas and themes for the next 90 minutes. Similarly, when I was managing programs dealing with the civil war in Bosnia, John and I had lunch — we had never discussed the emerging complexities of civil wars in Central America, let alone in the Balkans, but his insights into how political entrepreneurs used ‘culture’ for power were ones that I still use.”

Michael Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development, UCLA Department of Urban Planning

Let me make sure that you understand the lineage of John Friedmann and his importance to the field of regional planning. The forerunner of our school, the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, was created under the auspices of its first dean, Harvey Perloff. Perloff was an economist who had worked under the famous “brain trust” of President Franklin Roosevelt, in the depths of the Great Depression. Roosevelt brought in a number of people from the University of Chicago, among whom were Perloff and Rexford Tugwell. Perloff was instrumental in creating the country’s most important policy in the area of regional development, the regional planning authorities such as the Tennessee Valley Authority. Friedmann was an acolyte of Perloff, so that Perloff brought John to UCLA shortly after he was invited to be founding dean of the GSAUP. Together, they brought in a number of “big thinkers” to be the core faculty of the emerging urban planning department, including Ed Soja, Dolores Hayden and Peter Marris.

Friedmann has to be understood in that context. He was part of the great mid-century bulge of Europeans and European-style thinkers who came into American universities in the wake of depression and war in Europe. With his Austrian roots, John combined a European style intellectualism and broad culture, with American pragmatism. Like all of those of his generation of Austrians, he was traumatized by what had happened in Europe and saw policy as a way to make the world better in order to avoid such outcomes. Chicago was a crucible of this mixing of pragmatism and European big theory and humanist culture. John was trained in regional economics, but was deeply cultured in classical music, poetry and continental philosophy.

Perloff and Friedmann, along with Bill Alonso of Harvard, published the early fundamental texts and edited books in the emerging field of regional planning. John was close to Walter Isard, who established the Regional Science Association and its associated journals (still important to the field), as well as having contacts with all the European big names who were working to rebuild Europe through its regions, as the U.S. was doing so in order to get out of the depression and then to spread the wealth after the war.

It was also the period of 20th century “economic development” theory and practice, meaning the rise of a field of academia and practice devoted to combating under-development, in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Friedmann worked with Nobel Prize winners such as Gunnar Myrdal, and the renowned economist Albert Hirschmann. Friedmann spent many years in South America working on growth pole policies. So he brought a real global outlook and sensibility to UCLA.

The culture of our department was like a global intellectual salon at the time, with big ideas and world class intellectual speakers coming through for the Thursday Evening Lectures that John was instrumental in designing into the department’s life.

Later, as he moved away from nuts-and-bolts regional planning, John’s background and culture in continental European philosophy infused his work. With a line of inspiration that went from Aristotle through Kant to Habermas and Bergson, he was interested in experience, in the life-space, which he contrasted to economic space, how planning interacted with notions of a good and creative and fulfilling way to live. His later work explored power, identity, domination, and experience, with these philosophical traditions brought to bear on these questions. He was always reluctant to endorse typically American technocratic approaches to urban problems, eschewing the narrowness of the American academy, all the while hewing to his pragmatist side. His interest in painting, music, and poetry never flagged, as he saw these as essential to cultivating a sensibility of how things work together to create a whole out of the sum of parts, among which were statistics, economics, politics, and history.


On John Friedmann and the Implications of Regional Planning

By Susanna Hecht, professor of urban planning

In his later years John Friedmann was largely concerned with social movements as political processes as underpinnings to planning. This focus overlooks his earlier emphases in planning in understanding large scale river basin planning — the TVA, “from scratch” city construction, such as Ciudad Guyana in Venezuela, and his role in Latin American development politics, all of which were at earlier phases in his career but which informed his later ideas about transactive planning, and his general discomfort with bureaucratic planning as processes. Like most planners, he struggled with the idea and theory of planning, in many ways deriving his later ideas from Habermas, but also I would argue, to some degree from the failures of the transfer of planning models that actually seemed quite successful and, indeed, were practically text book cases of large scale river basin and territorial planning like the TVA — the Tennessee Valley Authority.

It is important to situate his early career in the intellectual ambience of the University of Chicago which had an outsized role in the intellectual underpinnings of the New Deal and post dust bowl recovery of the regions of Appalachia affected by the TVA. As a protégé of Harvey Perloff, he was exposed to the extraordinary influence that Chicago was to have on urban theory, especially through the idea of urban ecology ( not in the sense we use this term now as a socio-biotic domain) but rather as analogue to biotic systems with urban dynamics of succession ecological complexity and growth echoing as metaphor and reality the theories emerging from Chicago’s powerful biology department which was foundational in the development of ecological and succession theory.

Chicago biologists were deployed to help in landscape recovery of the degraded dust bowl lands (what we now call recuperation ecology), and for large scale land use planning  in the Tennessee River basin. (The TVA embraces Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, parts of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia) This ecological interest was complemented by the intense concern of new dealers like Tugwell and Henry Wallace  to improve rural and urban conditions in the most desperately impoverished areas of the south through flood control, electricity generation, rural electrification agrarian change, regional industrialization and urbanization in the context of comprehensive land use regional  planning which included natural resource management and social investments in health, education and infrastructure.

It was the largest such exercise in the U.S., it served as a model for basin development throughout the U.S., especially in post dust bowl Midwest and developing Western states, and it became paradigmatic for developing countries as well. Founded in natural resource management, structural transformation and urbanization and industrialization, the TVA experience was also seen as a template for tropical development. As a technocratic exercise it was often lambasted as a socialist project (or Soviet-style planning) and from the left as an anti-democratic outcome of high handed experts. It did work, however, in a textbook manner, in transforming hard-scrabble,  impoverished agriculture into modern forms, stimulating rural to urban migration and enhancing industrial development and other forms of energy-based development, and raising income health and education levels from truly those of third world countries to levels more in line with other areas in the U.S. While this model of comprehensive planning seemed to follow the recipe laid out by development economists and New Deal planners, and the kind of idea of linear progress,  John Friedmann’s experience in Latin American in many ways changed that and his views of planning.

The Early 1960s witnessed the idea of moving the ballast of national economies into their interiors in Latin America. Rather than remaining in colonial capitals perched on coastlines, the idea was to situate important administrative and industrial cities in the interior of their countries. Building Brasilia, and enhancing Manaus and Belo Horizonte were archetypical in their ways, as was the development of Ciudad Guyana in Venezuela. All these cities developed  fuller expression under authoritarian regimes, and in addition to urban development, embarked on massive infrastructure (dams for electricity) and  industrial investments. Ciudad Guyana was developed on a famous waterfall to capture the energy to enhance industrial steel and manganese development. It became an important migration zone, but what then happened is rather than following the TVA model into a glorious future, it descended into what John Friedmann would call, the Citadel and the Ghetto: the world’s city style of massive poverty and informality, coupled with an international style modern urbanism with a high-wage managerial but also oligarchic class structure. In Ciudad Guyana this took the form of 1950 style suburban development coupled to the favela housing and livelihoods. These lives contrasted mightily with the planners imaginary and this clash of outcomes and its inequalities were movingly described by his friend and co researcher anthropologist, Lisa Peattie.

This experience would also thrust him into the Core and Periphery forms of planning and urbanism associated with the theories of underdevelopment and dependency that were so  prominent in the intellectual architecture of the 1960s and 1970s. What was clear was that planning modalities in repressive environments and high levels of oligarchy and inequality were merely reproducing themselves within a new urban framing driven by “center” patterns of accumulation at the national, and international levels. After all US Steel was the main industrial beneficiary, and those suburban houses, fancy apartment towers were for its local and international managers, not for the more blue collar staff. In this sense the transformation of the region which was at the rhetorical level infused with ideas and ideologies of progress,  had far more uneven outcomes and was not like the regional process which, for all its faults had been the development outcome of the TVA.

This failure of planning and planning theory pushed Friedmann into a much more complex set of analyses, where in fact he viewed  the “expert systems” as lacking broader knowledge of societies and knowledge of  and about local populations’ needs and desires  even as they would be affected by plans and planners. His transactive planning and social learning models emphasized an approach the leaned on knowledge sharing as a more collective process and later on, insurgent and political action as increasingly key to transformation, especially as planning became more professionalized, bureaucratic and in many ways, complicit in structuring inequalities. While it has to be said, his framings were rather derivative from other stronger intellectual trends, his stylish prose, clarity of thought, and sociological training brought a more European sensibility to planning which while slowly changing, had been a kind of “tyranny of experts” — a legacy of new deal planners. As those planners moved from the rural to address more urban questions, and saw urban blight in many ways as part of the natural history of cities, he certainly felt that all the knowledge of places did not inhere in local planning departments. He was always attentive to the big picture of what shaped places, and to his credit, always saw rural and resources as a central part of understanding planning dynamics, and especially the dynamics of urbanization and especially in the third world.

As the profession moved away from the “rurality,” resource and urban connectivities, it ceded this arena to natural resource managers, and only very recently have these connections come back into planning focus, although very belatedly. Friedmann in this way was prescient but also very broadly experienced in national and international regional planning that deeply included rural livelihoods and transformations, and that in many ways these urban areas could not be understood without resource hinterlands. It is this world view that explains why I am in Urban Planning.

At another level, he loved Latin American literature and especially its poets and musicians. He liked to translate Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet, as well as the Spanish poet Frederico Lorca, and was an avid reader of Borges (who actually has plenty to say about planning), and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He kept interesting diaries, for example about his early travels to Manaus, and the Amazon in the chaotic interregnum of weak democracies before the iron handed authoritarians came to power. His Latin American experience was so colored by the authoritarian period, and so inspired by its artistic resistance that his later insistence on civil participation and insurgencies really come as no surprise.

It seems like a distant time, now, almost impossible to imagine given current intellectual cultures, but he would have gatherings where young faculty would meet with him, and read out favorite poems. I usually read Ann Sexton — a bohemian feminist poet. But he was a Neruda and Lorca guy, reading the poets who wrote under the authoritarian (Spanish and Chilean) moons.

Paper on Nature of Cities Earns Accolades UCLA Luskin scholars Michael Storper and Allen Scott are recognized for their agenda-setting critical assessment of current urban theory

By Stan Paul

The majority of the world’s people live in cities, and numerous theoretical approaches from diverse fields have suggested frameworks for thinking about urbanization and the complexity of the urban form.

Now, two UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs scholars are being recognized for seeking to frame those approaches as a common language, or foundational concept, for the study of urbanization, an effort that has further enlivened and deepened an ongoing debate. It has also sparked a bit of controversy.

Michael Storper of the Department of Urban Planning and his longtime colleague and collaborator Allen J. Scott have been selected by the journal Urban Studies as recipients of the Best Article award for 2016’s “Current Debates in Urban Theory: A Critical Assessment.”

The journal’s website explains that the Urban Studies Best Article designation is awarded by the editors and authors to the most innovative and agenda-setting article published in a given year. Mark Stephens is editor of the international journal, which was established in 1964 and is published by SAGE. The winning article was selected in a process that narrowed a field of 20 initial candidates to five before the final selection was made.

Storper is a distinguished professor of regional and international development at UCLA Luskin, and Scott is a distinguished professor emeritus of public policy and geography. Their article proposed an analytical framework for urban studies while strongly critiquing three existing and influential perspectives: postcolonial urban theory, assemblage theory and planetary urbanism.

Storper, who also holds academic appointments at the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris and the London School of Economics, noted that this was the second paper on this subject in collaboration with Scott. In the earlier paper, the two UCLA professors had argued for a different approach, generating vigorous debate that led proponents of competing theories to offer their own critiques in response.

The newest paper addresses those critiques and offers further explanation by Storper and Scott. In the journal article, they wrote: “We claim that there are fundamental common genetic factors underlying urban patterns, and a robust set of conceptual categories within which urbanisation processes and urban experiences can be analysed, wherever they may occur in the world.”

Storper and Scott considered high levels of diversity and disagreement over the last century, writing “we asked if a coherent, stable theory of the city could be constructed.” Such a theory would need to accomplish all of the following: “account for the genesis of cities in general, capture the essence of cities as concrete social phenomena, and make it possible to shed light on the observable empirical cities over time and space.”

The authors identify and put forth five basic variables, or forces, that shape what they refer to as the “urban land nexus” at different times and places. These include:

  • the overall level and mode of economic development;
  • prevailing resource allocation rules;
  • forms of social stratification;
  • cultural norms and traditions;
  • and relations of political authority and power.

In refuting other theoretical formulations of what defines urban, Storper and Scott further conclude: “Not only does our analysis provide us with the tools for distinguishing between the general and the particular in urban outcomes, but also for separating out that which is distinctively and inherently urban from the rest of social reality.

“We must distinguish between phenomena that occur in cities but are not generated by urbanization processes as such, and phenomena that are legitimately elements of cities in the sense that they play an active role in defining the shape and logic of urban outcomes.”

The full article and lists of other finalists and previous winners are available online, as is a video explanation by Storper.

L.A.’s Economic Slide: A Who-Done-It Written Over Several Decades UCLA Luskin's Michael Storper and Zev Yaroslavsky unravel the past and future of the city at Town Hall Los Angeles gathering

By Stan Paul

Los Angeles has long been the setting for detective stories and Hollywood noir, but the real who-done-it is the region’s economy over the past several decades, according to UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs researcher and author Michael Storper.

There are false leads and possibly a smoking gun to be found in solving how Los Angeles — a leader among cities for most of the 20th century — began an economic slide after 1970, falling behind regions such as the Bay Area.

Storper, the distinguished professor of regional and international development in the Luskin School’s Department of Urban Planning, put the city’s economic history under a magnifying glass during a conversation with former Los Angeles city councilman and county supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky on Feb. 8, 2017, at a gathering of Town Hall Los Angeles, a nonprofit leadership forum founded in 1937.

“1970 is an interesting moment; it’s not just an arbitrary date,” said Storper, whose comments reflected research from his recent book, “The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles.” “It’s pretty much the time when what we call the old economies about the middle of the 20th century, based principally on manufacturing, began to shift in what we would now call the new economy.”

Just the Facts

“We started with a simple fact that you can see,” said Storper. “We observed that in 1970 the Bay Area and greater Los Angeles were about equal in what we might call their wealth and development level,” using per capita income as a way to measure wealth, he explained. “Today the Bay Area is still number one, but we’re number 25 out of the regions that have more than 2 million people. That’s a really big slippage that does not put us, frankly, in the best of company.”

The time period in question included the IT revolution, finance revolution, “flipping the switch” for more globalization and the development of advanced services, Storper said. So, the Bay Area is now 30 percent richer than Los Angeles. “What that suggests is that the Bay Area somehow managed the transition more successfully than we did here in Southern California,” he said.

Since 1970, the Bay Area gave birth to Silicon Valley, refocused its economy in finance, landed several IT-related corporate headquarters and is currently winning in biotech. By contrast, greater Los Angeles lost high-wage aerospace and defense firms, as well as several corporate headquarters. “We grow in light manufacturing, but light manufacturing is the low-wage part of the economy,” he added.

And, while L.A. has Hollywood, or as Storper calls it, “the bright star, our super-dynamic, supernova,” it is not enough to float a region of 18 million people. “It has huge positive benefits, but it’s just not big enough,” he said.

“We have to ask ourselves, why is this happening, given that L.A. was the envy of the country and the world for much of the 20th century?” Storper said. “And, if you look at L.A., if you roll back the film to 1970, we had more engineers; we had a vibrant entrepreneurial culture; we had more tech firms; we had equal education levels; and we, in many ways, had better infrastructure than the Bay Area did.”

Storper said he is often asked if there is some kind of “optical illusion” at work, given that the Bay Area’s housing is so much more expensive than in L.A. Are people really better off in Northern California?

“The answer is yes,” Storper said. “When you correct for cost of living of each part of the part of the population at each income level, and the amount of money they spent on housing, they still come out with having somewhere between 20 to 25 percent higher per capita income than we do.”

Another question Storper is asked: Is it because L.A. is so much bigger? No, it’s not a question of geographical scale, Storper said. “Seventy-five percent of the population of the Bay Area lives in counties that are higher in per capita income than our richest county, which is Orange County. They have regionwide prosperity up in Northern California.”

Then Who Done It?

Storper said he and his co-researchers started looking into the different core sectors of the economy: aerospace, information technology, entertainment, finance, logistics, trade and biotech. They found very different stories about how IT and biotech firms, business leaders, leadership groups and public agencies use the resources of their regions to establish a foothold in the new economy.

“There’s a really strong business leadership group in the Bay Area,” Storper said. “We didn’t really know where things were going, but the Bay Area Council got on it early in the 1980s and said, ‘The future is in being the high-tech, high-wage, and high-skill economy. We’re never going to make it in manufacturing again. We’re too expensive and there’s no way to roll that back significantly,’ so they pushed a high-road vision for the Bay Area.”

And the Bay Area Council wasn’t acting alone, relying on business leadership networks. Storper said his researchers looked at the major firms of both regions and asked who sits the boards of directors.

“What emerges is an absolutely striking difference,” Storper said. “In the Bay Area it’s highly networked. They are all networked and talking to each other because they are all on each other’s boards of directors.” Not so for Los Angeles. “You look at L.A. and that’s not the case,” he said. “It’s a bunch of separate communities.”

In addition to industry, scientists and university-based researchers are more networked in the northern part of the state, said Storper, citing a seven times more per capita tendency for a university-based researcher to start a firm or to patent something that becomes commercialized in the Bay Area.

“And it’s not because our universities aren’t as good,” he said. “It’s because theirs are more connected than ours.”

For Storper, the core issue is whether we can “rebuild and change the way we do things and in particular rebuild our human connectivity” in order to be innovative and move forward in the new economy.

An Eyewitness

“I think that Michael’s book is one of the most important pieces of literature I’ve read on Los Angeles in an awful long time,” said Yarosklavsky, former Los Angeles councilman and five-term county supervisor, who spoke following Storper’s economic overview. “What it did was hold up a mirror to us those of us in public life, the private sector, stakeholders in the community. It said, ‘Here’s what’s been happening in the last 40 years.’”

Yaroslavsky, who was born and raised in Los Angeles and who has lived a public life as a civic leader, offered his observations.

“There are a lot of factors in why this happened. I think public investment is a huge piece of this puzzle,” said Yaroslavsky, who currently serves as director of the Los Angeles Initiative based at UCLA Luskin.

Investment in transportation is a prime example, according to Yaroslavsky. “Starting 1970 the BART system was under way,” he said. “By the time we cut the ribbon on the first 4.4 miles of the subway in Los Angeles, it was 1993.”

Going back to the early 1970s, Yaroslavsky said that San Francisco had plateaued while Los Angeles seemed to be on a roll.

“The Korean and Vietnam wars, the Cold War, the space race, and the aircraft and aerospace industries were a backbone of the regional economy, and there was no thought that this would dissipate any time soon,” he said. “As a result, San Francisco’s business leaders looked ahead to position their region for the economy of the future, while Los Angeles’ leaders were looking in the rear-view mirror, searching for ways to preserve aerospace, manufacturing, and other industries that had carried it since the war years.”

Yaroslavsky said that, within a span of 20 years, these portions of L.A.’s economic base had diminished or disappeared, while the Bay Area was on its way. And, he said, L.A. is still playing catch-up.

He also pointed out that much of the political power in the state was based in Northern California, citing the influence of Northern Californians as U.S. senators, state legislators and assembly speakers for half of the 40-year period.

“These were important in that considerable public resources were invested in the north to provide infrastructure for the burgeoning industries of the future,” he said. “The Bay Area had a focused vision of where they wanted to go, and their federal and state representatives partnered with them to help make it happen.”

Southern California did not have a similar cohesive, focused civic leadership with a road map of where they wanted to go, Yaroslavsky said. In fact, during this period most of the remaining Fortune 500 corporations that called L.A. home left.

But Yaroslavsky said that there are signs that Southern California is turning the corner, mentioning several voter-approved measures in the last six years that will provide hundreds of billions of dollars of transportation infrastructure investment in this region.

Political power has also shifted in Southern California’s favor, he said. “The leaders of our legislature are both from L.A. county. The region seems to be working more collaboratively in recent years than in the past.”

Yaroslavsky said L.A.’s economic future is promising, but cautioned that this cannot be taken for granted.

“We are competing with other metropolitan areas along the coast, across the country and around the world,” he said. “Investments in our infrastructure — transit, harbor, airports, and communications are critical to facilitate private sector expansion. Public education and housing costs also heavily influence where private investment is made.”

A Career of ‘Depth and Quality’ UCLA Luskin scholar Michael Storper to receive the American Association of Geographers’ Distinguished Scholarship Honors

By Stan Paul

The map of Michael Storper’s career-long study of economic geography is characterized by “depth and quality,” according to the American Association of Geographers (AAG), which is awarding to Storper the organization’s prestigious Distinguished Scholarship Honors for 2017.

The UCLA distinguished professor of regional and international development — and longtime faculty member in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ Department of Urban Planning — will receive the accolade at the association’s annual awards meeting in April 2017 in Boston.

Storper’s “outstanding record of scholarly achievement and innovative contributions to the fields of global economic development and geography of urban and regional systems” place him “in a category of scholarship that is truly deserving of this prestigious award,” notes the citation to Storper’s award announced by Douglas Richardson, AAG’s executive director.

The co-author of the 2015 book “The Rise and Decline of Urban Economies: Lessons from Los Angeles and San Francisco” also was cited for the breadth of his research and “highly influential scholarly publications and foundational contributions to economic and urban geography and related disciplines.”

“My current research is about understanding the sharp splits that have opened up between prosperous urban regions and other places, and the future of both of these types of regions,” said Storper, who also serves as director of Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin. “This geography of increasingly separate worlds is also behind the sharp splits in politics and social attitudes that characterize the U.S. and other countries today.”

Storper was previously named to the Thomson Reuters list of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds of 2014.

In addition to his extensive scholarship, Storper was recognized by the Washington, D.C.-based AAG for holding prestigious academic positions, including chair in economic sociology at the Institut des Sciences Politiques in Paris (Sciences Po) and a permanent chair in economic geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Most recently, Storper was awarded the 2016 Gold Founder’s Medal from the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers, IBG). Storper received the honor — awarded since the 1830s and considered one of the most prestigious in the field of geography worldwide — for his “pioneering” research in economic geography.

“I am honored to be recognized for my scholarship thus far,” Storper said, “and this recognition motivates me to continue the hard work of rigorous scholarship and publication on these topics in the future.”

A Geography Pioneer Urban Planning professor Michael Storper accepts award in London during meeting of Royal Geographical Society

By Stan Paul

For Michael Storper, one way to make the world a better place is by understanding its geographies — something he has spent a career in academia pursuing.

Storper’s efforts and achievements in the field of geography were rewarded this month in London. The Distinguished Professor of Regional and International Development in the UCLA Luskin Department of Urban Planning received the 2016 Gold “Founder’s Medal” from the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers, IBG).

Storper received the award, considered one of the most prestigious in the field of geography worldwide — and approved by Queen Elizabeth II — for his “pioneering” research in economic geography. The international honor, which has been awarded since the 1830s, includes a long list of famous names in exploration and world geography.

“Michael Storper’s research has enhanced our understanding of the significance of the region and the importance of regional economies,” Nicholas Crane, president of the Royal Geographical Society (with IGB), said earlier this spring when he announced the society’s award recipients.

At the awards ceremony, held at the society’s annual meeting, Storper spoke about the honor and continuing importance of geography today.

“Geography’s scientific progress in explaining both differentiation and exchange has been nothing short of astonishing in the last few decades,” Storper said. “We can tease out people and place relationships with models and evidence we never had before. And this links our purpose in this world.”

Read Michael Storper’s full speech

Read related story

 

Urban Planning Scholar Receives Royal Geographical Society’s Top Award UCLA Luskin School’s Michael Storper joins exclusive group of luminaries as a recipient of the organization’s Founder’s Medal

By Stan Paul

Since the 1830s, the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) has presented gold “Royal Medals” to individuals for outstanding achievement in the field of geography. Among past winners are renowned explorer David Livingstone and, more recently, Sir David Attenborough. The awards recognize excellence in geographical research and fieldwork as well as teaching and public engagement.

This year the RGS, with the Institute of British Geographers (IBG), have awarded the Founder’s Medal to Michael Storper, Distinguished Professor of Regional and International Development in the Department of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. The award is for his “leadership in human and economic geography,” according to the Society’s announcement.

The medals, approved by Queen Elizabeth II, are considered “the most prestigious medals awarded and one of the world’s highest accolades in geography,” according to the RGS-IBG. The two gold medals originated in 1831 as an annual gift of 50 guineas. In 1839 the gift to the society from King William IV became the two gold medals awarded since that time. Bob Geldof received this year’s other award, the Patron’s Medal.

“Michael Storper’s research has enhanced our understanding of the significance of the region and the importance of regional economies,” Nicholas Crane, president of the Royal Geographical Society, said in making the announcement.

Crane recognized Storper’s “pioneering research” on the role of informal institutions, as well as on the geography of clusters and innovation. “Michael has been at the forefront of setting up the theoretical and empirical framework of modern economic geography, and his work has inspired a generation of geographers,” Crane said.

Storper, who received his Ph.D. in geography from the University of California, Berkeley, is an international scholar who focuses his research and teaching on the closely linked areas of economic geography, globalization, technology, city regions and economic development. In addition to teaching at UCLA, Storper holds faculty appointments at the London School of Economics, where he is professor of economic geography, and France’s Institute of Political Studies, better known as “Sciences Po,” as professor of economic sociology.

“Our research is essential to helping humanity find pathways to more just and peaceful societies that respect the environment and are based on respect for all peoples,” said Storper. “I am honored to take my place among other geographers recognized by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) for their contributions to our discipline and our commitment to making a better world through geographical research.”

The Department of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs was recently named the most influential planning school in North America based on citations of planning scholarship. In the same study, published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research, Storper was listed as the second-most-cited planning scholar among more than 900 scholars evaluated in the analysis.

Storper’s most recent book, “The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles” (Stanford University Press, 2015), co-authored with Tom Kemeny, Naji Makarem and Taner Osman, analyzes the economic development policies, and divergent outcomes of the regions since the 1970s.

“We are so proud of and happy for our colleague, Professor Michael Storper, on this momentous award!” said Lois Takahashi, Interim Dean of the Luskin School. “In addition to his groundbreaking scholarship, Michael makes huge contributions to practice and policy. He is a thought leader, critic and innovator in policy and practice circles in the region, state and nation. And, he contributes in innumerable ways to the life and culture of UCLA Luskin. We celebrate with him on this amazing announcement!”

The gold medals will be awarded June 6 in London at the Society’s annual meeting.

Storper was elected to the British Academy in 2012 and received the Regional Studies Association’s award for overall achievement as well as the Sir Peter Hall Award in the House of Commons in 2012. In 2014 he was named one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters. The author of “Keys to the City” (Princeton University Press, 2013), Storper received an honorary doctorate from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands in 2008. He also serves as director of Global Public Affairs @ UCLA Luskin.