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Human and Social Hazards in Los Angeles Source:

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Presentation on theme: "Human and Social Hazards in Los Angeles Source:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Human and Social Hazards in Los Angeles Source:

2 The United States of America Source:

3 Los Angeles the City of Angels? Source:

4 Los Angeles “The capital of the 20 th century”. “The capital of the 20 th century”. LA has become increasingly important as the world realises it is facing a Pacific century. LA has become increasingly important as the world realises it is facing a Pacific century. 60 mile city. 60 mile city. Population c.12 million. Population c.12 million. Gross annual output of c.$250 billion. Gross annual output of c.$250 billion. LA as a window through which to view rest of the world. LA as a window through which to view rest of the world. Source: http//www.hellolosangeles.com

5 The Growth of LA Multi centred region. Five counties: LA, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura. Multi centred region. Five counties: LA, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura. Hard to over emphasis how much LA is growing, changing, expanding. Hard to over emphasis how much LA is growing, changing, expanding. Centrality of cars in contemporary cities. Exacerbating fragmentation, privatisation, segregation. Centrality of cars in contemporary cities. Exacerbating fragmentation, privatisation, segregation. LA’s inhabitants have been energetically, ceaselessly and sometimes carelessly unrolling urbanisation over natural landscape for more than a century. LA’s inhabitants have been energetically, ceaselessly and sometimes carelessly unrolling urbanisation over natural landscape for more than a century. Uninhibited occupation has engendered its own range of environmental problems e.g. air pollution, habitat loss and dangerous encounters between humans and animals. Uninhibited occupation has engendered its own range of environmental problems e.g. air pollution, habitat loss and dangerous encounters between humans and animals.

6 The Economic Restructuring of LA 4 elements : 4 elements : –Closures in smokestack manufacturing, during 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. –New jobs created in high tech sectors. –Increase in sweatshop industries. –Large scale inward investment in property from Japanese and overseas Chinese interests. Contrast between low tech garment industry and high tech (aerospace) industry – a bi polar economy. Contrast between low tech garment industry and high tech (aerospace) industry – a bi polar economy.

7 Changes in World Economy and Impacts on LA Shifting world market for labour coupled with shifting world market for production sites. Shifting world market for labour coupled with shifting world market for production sites. Disinvestment and unemployment in one country can be linked to employment in another nation. Disinvestment and unemployment in one country can be linked to employment in another nation. Pockets of affluence created in core cities in turn generate demand for customised production and personal services performed by low wage workers, thereby contributing to uneven development within growing cities at core. Pockets of affluence created in core cities in turn generate demand for customised production and personal services performed by low wage workers, thereby contributing to uneven development within growing cities at core. Sweatshops: employ immigrants from Asia, Mexico and Central America. Availability of illegal immigrant labour lacking basic right of citizenship and willing to work for low wages is a major factor contributing to rise of new sweatshops and their spatial concentration in large US core cities. Sweatshops: employ immigrants from Asia, Mexico and Central America. Availability of illegal immigrant labour lacking basic right of citizenship and willing to work for low wages is a major factor contributing to rise of new sweatshops and their spatial concentration in large US core cities.

8 Changes in World Economy and Impacts on LA 2 Number of low paid service jobs has increased dramatically => sometimes viewed as a distinct type of economic restructuring – in LA “almost a third world in a first world city.” Number of low paid service jobs has increased dramatically => sometimes viewed as a distinct type of economic restructuring – in LA “almost a third world in a first world city.” Corporate centre restructuring often involves migration of better paid managerial/professional people to inner city, often to luxury apartments or gentrified homes, whose construction involves displacement of middle/low income households. Corporate centre restructuring often involves migration of better paid managerial/professional people to inner city, often to luxury apartments or gentrified homes, whose construction involves displacement of middle/low income households. Government investment is important to economic health of LA. Defence and aerospace contracts for huge projects like space shuttle and high tech weapons systems fuel growth of region. Government investment is important to economic health of LA. Defence and aerospace contracts for huge projects like space shuttle and high tech weapons systems fuel growth of region. Perhaps more than any other place, LA is everywhere. Global in fullest sense of word. Nowhere, is this more evident than in its cultural projection and ideological reach. Perhaps more than any other place, LA is everywhere. Global in fullest sense of word. Nowhere, is this more evident than in its cultural projection and ideological reach.

9 “With exquisite irony, contemporary LA has come to resemble more than ever before a gigantic agglomeration of theme parks, a life space comprised of Disneyworld's. It is a realm divided into showcases of global village cultures and mimetic American landscapes, all embracing shopping malls and crafty Main Streets, corporation sponsored magic kingdoms, high technology based experimental prototype communities of tomorrow, attractively packaged places for rest and recreation all cleverly hiding the buzzing workstations and labour processes which help to keep it all together” (Soja, 2000). “With exquisite irony, contemporary LA has come to resemble more than ever before a gigantic agglomeration of theme parks, a life space comprised of Disneyworld's. It is a realm divided into showcases of global village cultures and mimetic American landscapes, all embracing shopping malls and crafty Main Streets, corporation sponsored magic kingdoms, high technology based experimental prototype communities of tomorrow, attractively packaged places for rest and recreation all cleverly hiding the buzzing workstations and labour processes which help to keep it all together” (Soja, 2000).

10 Social Exclusion and the “Revolt of the Elite” Perhaps most heterogeneous city in world. Perhaps most heterogeneous city in world. Shift in ethnic composition of LA county population from 70% Anglo in 1970 to 60% non Anglo in Shift in ethnic composition of LA county population from 70% Anglo in 1970 to 60% non Anglo in Shift from African-American to Latino population. Shift from African-American to Latino population. LA less a ‘melting pot’ than NYC. Lots of different nationalities but tend to live in ethnic enclaves. LA less a ‘melting pot’ than NYC. Lots of different nationalities but tend to live in ethnic enclaves. LA police have a reputation for being racist. LA police have a reputation for being racist.

11 Social Exclusion and the “Revolt of the Elite” 2 Obsession with physical security systems and architectural policing of social boundaries. Obsession with physical security systems and architectural policing of social boundaries. “We live in fortress cities brutally divided between the fortified cells of affluent society and places of terror where the police battle the criminalised poor (Soja, 2000)”. “We live in fortress cities brutally divided between the fortified cells of affluent society and places of terror where the police battle the criminalised poor (Soja, 2000)”. In cities like LA unprecedented tendency to merge urban design, architecture and police apparatus into a single, comprehensive security effort. In cities like LA unprecedented tendency to merge urban design, architecture and police apparatus into a single, comprehensive security effort. Market provision of security generates its own paranoid demand. Security becomes a positional good defined by income, access to private protective services and membership in some hardened residential enclave or restricted suburb. Security has less to do with personal safety than with degree of personal insulation from unsavory groups, individuals and crowds in general. Market provision of security generates its own paranoid demand. Security becomes a positional good defined by income, access to private protective services and membership in some hardened residential enclave or restricted suburb. Security has less to do with personal safety than with degree of personal insulation from unsavory groups, individuals and crowds in general.

12 Social Exclusion and the “Revolt of the Elite” 3 ‘Fear proves itself’ – social perception of threat becomes a function of security mobilisation itself, not crime rates. ‘Fear proves itself’ – social perception of threat becomes a function of security mobilisation itself, not crime rates. Today's pseudo public spaces – sumptuary malls, office centres, cultural acropolises and so on are full of invisible signs warning off underclass other. Today's pseudo public spaces – sumptuary malls, office centres, cultural acropolises and so on are full of invisible signs warning off underclass other. Universal and inevitable consequence of crusade to secure city is destruction of accessible public space. Universal and inevitable consequence of crusade to secure city is destruction of accessible public space. Fredrick Law Olmstead conceived public spaces and parks as social safety valves, mixing classes and ethnicities in common recreations and enjoyments. Fredrick Law Olmstead conceived public spaces and parks as social safety valves, mixing classes and ethnicities in common recreations and enjoyments. Quality of any urban environment can be measured by whether there are convenient, comfortable places for pedestrians to sit. Quality of any urban environment can be measured by whether there are convenient, comfortable places for pedestrians to sit.

13 Social Exclusion and the “Revolt of the Elite” 4 Bunker Hill, LA’s new Downtown: tens of millions spent on ‘soft’ environments for office workers and upscale tourists. In contrast, few blocks away city is making public facilities and spaces as ‘unliveable’ as possible for homeless and poor. Bunker Hill, LA’s new Downtown: tens of millions spent on ‘soft’ environments for office workers and upscale tourists. In contrast, few blocks away city is making public facilities and spaces as ‘unliveable’ as possible for homeless and poor. Skid row – outdoor poor house, one of most dangerous ten blocks in world. Skid row – outdoor poor house, one of most dangerous ten blocks in world. Many homeless try to ‘escape’ to safer areas but city tightens noose with increased police harassment and ingenious design deterrents e.g. Many homeless try to ‘escape’ to safer areas but city tightens noose with increased police harassment and ingenious design deterrents e.g. –Barrel shaped bus benches, minimal surface for comfortable sitting while making sleeping impossible –Outdoor sprinklers –Ornate enclosures to protect waste –No public toilets –LAPD regularly sweep streets, confiscate ‘cardboard condos’

14 The 1992 Riots Rodney King an African-American who — while being videotaped by a bystander — was severely beaten and arrested by the LAPD during a police traffic stop in Rodney King an African-American who — while being videotaped by a bystander — was severely beaten and arrested by the LAPD during a police traffic stop in Incident raised a public outcry, especially in African-American community, among people who believed incident was racially motivated. Incident raised a public outcry, especially in African-American community, among people who believed incident was racially motivated. Subsequent acquittal in a state court of 4 officers charged with using excessive force in subduing King led to 1992 LA riots and mass protest around country. Subsequent acquittal in a state court of 4 officers charged with using excessive force in subduing King led to 1992 LA riots and mass protest around country. Source:

15 Left hundreds of buildings severely damaged or destroyed, caused more than $1 billion worth of damage, killed 55 people, injured 2383, and led to arrest of more than 8000 people. Left hundreds of buildings severely damaged or destroyed, caused more than $1 billion worth of damage, killed 55 people, injured 2383, and led to arrest of more than 8000 people. Smaller riots occurred in other U.S. cities. Smaller riots occurred in other U.S. cities. Source:

16 Conclusion Fragmented and polarised city. Fragmented and polarised city. Symbolic and high tech industries stand in stark contrast to industrial firms and Sweatshops that underpin city. Symbolic and high tech industries stand in stark contrast to industrial firms and Sweatshops that underpin city. Highly diverse ethnic mix, but live in segregated areas. How is empathy and understanding of difference engendered if it is never or rarely experienced? Highly diverse ethnic mix, but live in segregated areas. How is empathy and understanding of difference engendered if it is never or rarely experienced? Crime and fear of crime have lead to a ‘culture of fear’. Crime and fear of crime have lead to a ‘culture of fear’. Physical environment reflects this with a decreasing amount of public space and an increasing amount of fortified development. Physical environment reflects this with a decreasing amount of public space and an increasing amount of fortified development. Problems boil over in re-occurring events such as the 1992 riots. Problems boil over in re-occurring events such as the 1992 riots.

17 Bibliography Dear, M. (2000) The Postmodern Urban Condition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Dear, M. (2000) The Postmodern Urban Condition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Dear, M. and Flusty, S (2001) The spaces of postmodernity : readings in human geography. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. Dear, M. and Flusty, S (2001) The spaces of postmodernity : readings in human geography. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. Soja, E. (2000) Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Soja, E. (2000) Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.


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