Reconstructing Urban Economics

Towards a Political Economy of the Built Environment

Franklin Obeng-Odoom


A substantial and much-needed contribution to urban economics, providing both a critique of the mainstream and a compass for alternatives.

Neoclassical economics, the intellectual bedrock of modern capitalism, faces growing criticisms, as many of its key assumptions and policy prescriptions are systematically challenged. Yet, there remains one field of economics where these limitations continue virtually unchallenged: the study of cities and regions in built-environment economics.

In this book, Franklin Obeng-Odoom draws on institutional, Georgist and Marxist economics to clearly but comprehensively show what the key issues are today in thinking about urban economics. In doing so, he demonstrates the widespread tensions and contradictions in the status quo, showing how to reconstruct urban economics in order to create a more just society and environment.

Author Bio

Franklin Obeng-Odoom teaches urban economics at the School of Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in Australia. He is an International Social Science Council world social science fellow in sustainable urbanisation. Franklin was elected to the Fellowship of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015, becoming the country’s youngest fellow. In 2016, he won the Patrick Welch prize awarded by the Association for Social Economics and his book Reconstructing Urban Economics was listed in the top 5 entries for the Egon Matzner Prize 2017.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction: Dissent and Reconstruction
  • Part I: Establishing Principles for Urban Progress
    • 1. Scaffolding the Principles and Values of Reconstruction
    • 2. The Urban Challenge
    • 3. The Urban Economy
  • Part II: Analysing Material Conditions in Cities
    • 4. Urban Economic Growth: Globalisation, Trade, and Convergence
    • 5. Informal Economies
    • 6. Urban Poverty; Socio-Spatial Inequality
  • Part III: Creating a Socio-Ecologically Sensitive Future
    • 7. Housing
    • 8. Homo Automobilus
    • 9. Sustainable Urban Development
  • Conclusion: Towards A Political Economy of the Built Environment


‘This powerful and timely new book challenges the prevailing orthodoxy within urban studies. It blends diverse theories, international experience and a global viewpoint. Students of urban economics, real estate and planning will find it a refreshing alternative to the standard texts.’
Frank Stilwell, University of Sydney

‘Presents an alternative map of urban economics. Obeng-Odoom's command of the facts, eye for absurdity, and appreciation of the balance between heterodox and orthodox slants makes his book the most authoritative, educative and inspiring text on the subject.'
Paul Alagidede, University of the Witwatersrand

‘A lively and up-to-date introduction to urban economics, which will encourage readers to think outside-the-box on a topic which is too important for our collective future to be left to urban specialists alone.’
Charles Gore, author of Regions in Question

‘A major contribution to the urban economics of the built environment and a thoughtful counterbalance to mainstream neoclassical and neoliberal framing of urban systems.’
Richard Grant, University of Miami

‘Obeng-Odoom throws down the gauntlet by challenging the dominant voices in urban economics who assure us that a market equilibrium will bring about a happy result for everyone. Without any of the sound and fury of a self-proclaimed prophet, Obeng-Odoom quietly shows us that African thought has the potential to begin to heal the rifts in Eurocentric thought, rifts that continue to cause great suffering in the world.’
Clifford Cobb, editor of the American Journal of Economics and Sociology

‘A welcome addition to the existing literature on urban and property economics. I would recommend this book to both students and seasoned scholars of urban and land economy and urban development more generally.’
Ramin Keivani, Oxford Brookes University

'Reconstructing Urban Economics is a most welcome addition to the canon of progressive urban scholarship and Obeng-Odoom is its well qualified author.'
Journal of Australian Political Economy

'Obeng-Odoom joins a long list of thoughtful analysts and social reformers ... who have sought to keep the proposals of Henry George in the public dialogue.'
Land and Liberty

'The book reminds us that issues of the urban question around spatial inequality in terms of housing, transport, jobs or other metrics, are issues that have historical precedents, are trans-national and trans-cultural … So when politicians, think-tanks, industry peak bodies, or universities offer simple solutions that promote the status quo, books like this one help us to articulate our rebuttals.'
Australian Universities’ Review

'A significant new book on urban political economic analysis, issues and policy … Obeng-Odoom rightly criticises the prevailing Anglo- American bias in urban studies and makes an effective case for drawing on post-colonial perspectives that offer a better means of understanding the challenges faced by developing nations.'
Urban Policy and Research

'An invaluable compendium of information for anyone wishing to become acquainted with the most recent and most important publications on urban economics.'
Good Government

'Obeng-Odoom’s attempt to challenge the dominant perspective in urban economics deserves praise and recognition ... highly recommended reading for students and researchers of urban studies.'
Urbani Izziv

'Recommended for readers who seek a heterodox perspective on urban economics.'

'[The] book has substantial merit. It provides a useful set of counter-arguments to the received wisdom on urban economics and the built environment. As such, it has the potential to broaden theoretical and practical perspectives on a topic where quite narrow views often predominate.'
Economic Record


Publication Date: 15 August 2016
296 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783606597
Hardback: 9781783606603
eBook ePub: 9781783606627
eBook PDF: 9781783606610
eBook Kindle: 9781783606634

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