Toward a more human human ecology: An urban research strategy

Harvey L. Molotch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Toward a More Human Human Ecology 67 all-white, middle-class area, currently in the process of racial transition, but with a strong community organization explicitly committed to a goal of” racial integration” and preservation of the area as a” high quality” community. Thirty semi-structured interview ws with community leader sand twenty-five conducted with other residents during the period of June 1965 through December 1965 by this writer have revealed that what is meant by” high quality” and” integration” amongst South Shore white sis the maintenance of the area as middle-class and there tention of as many whites as possible. There sidents of South Shore are joined in this goal by the business men who operate in the area, and by planner sand civic officials in both public and private pronouncements. Such goal shave become ubiquitous among st neighbor hood improvement associations operating in metropolitan Americas. What has been said of residential area scan also be applied to business areas. Here the function of maintenance and enhancement is fulfilled by the local chamber of commerce or the shopping street association. Like there sidential community, such groups depend for their existence up on a certain communality of interests which are associated with a certain geographical area. The interest which a group has in maintaining and enhancing a geographical unit becomes manifest in a competition with other areas for certain kinds of land users who are regarded as desirable. Because many are as aim to attract the same kinds of land users and because the potential number of such land users is in scarce supply, the conditions for a competitive situation are present. In the case of an are a like South Shore a” grey area” under going an economic decline and a transition from white to Negro occupancy the scarcere source is white, middle-class(or upper class) residents. The competitors of South Shore are not only other middle class” grey areas,” but also white (or integrated)areas in the central core as well as in the suburbs and outlying unimproved lands which hare ripe for development. Which of the se areas will be” victorious” is determined by there lative advantages and disadvantages which each has to offer the scarce middle-class white resident. This competition system is obviously a very different one than that usually described by the classical ecologist sand their followers. In order to explain how humans come to deploy them selves over age o graphical area, the ecologist focuse sup on the competition amongst land users; 6 here the focus is instead up on the competition amongst land areas. The present attempt has been to bring to light one of the competitive systems which see ms to be largely ignored-at least in the literature of ecological theory. True, people and land users continue to compete for scarce, desirable or peculiarly strategic urban spaces. But more and more, urban spaces are competing for certain kinds of people and land users. People compete for areas-and are as compete for people. Thus there are two competitive processes occurring simultaneously and interacting with one another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReadings in Urban Analysis
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives on Urban Form and Structure
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781351494717
ISBN (Print)9780882850825
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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