City of Quartz

City of Quartz

City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles is a 1990 book by Mike Davis examining problems facing Los Angeles. The underlying material was originally intended as a Ph.D. submission in completion of the requirements for his history doctorate, but it was rejected. Davis completed the work and found a publisher for it, and it became a standard text in many courses in urban sociology.

The book is a Marxist historical, economic, and cultural dissection of Los Angeles, its residents and their lifestyles and their interactions with real estate developers. Davis contrasts the campaigners for 'slow growth' with the needs of minorities living on the margins and the never ending growth of Los Angeles with environmental considerations. Given its origin as a Ph.D. dissertation, the book is well-annotated.

Davis' unique approach to authoring City of Quartz can be considered a chief factor in the book's widespread appeal, and the very large influence it has had on urban studies since its authorship.

City of Quartz, and various stories from the work, are occasionally cited in local newspaper articles in the Los Angeles Times, the now-defunct New Times LA, and particularly, LA Weekly. The edition of the book published in 2006 contains a preface detailing changes in Los Angeles since the work was written in the late 1980s.


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  • Decker, Jeffrey Louis. American Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 1 (March, 1992)
  • Erie. Steven P. Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 107., No. 1 (Spring, 1992).
  • Ford, Richard T. Transition, No. 57 (1992).
  • Horton, John. Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 20, No. 6 (November, 1991).
  • Kirkham, Pat. Journal of Design History, Vol. 5., No. 2 (1992).
  • Knox, Paul. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 83, No. 1 (March 1993).
  • Williams, Rosalind. Journal of American History, Vol. 79, No. 4 (March, 1993).

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