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SustainabilityApproaches to Environmental Justice and Social Power$
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Julie Sze

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479894567

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479894567.001.0001

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Situating Sustainability in the Luxury City

Situating Sustainability in the Luxury City

Toward a Critical Urban Research Agenda

Chapter:
(p.180) 7 Situating Sustainability in the Luxury City
Source:
Sustainability
Author(s):
Miriam Greenberg
Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479894567.003.0008

This chapter seeks to situate sustainability within particular epistemological fields and communities in order to understand the growing contentiousness between rival versions of the concept. Focusing on the famously green yet increasingly unaffordable 'luxury city' of San Francisco Bay Area, it explores how these epistemological formations are quite literally 'situated' geographically, shaped by and shaping of the places, communities, social relations and political ecologies in which they emerge. It argues that as investments into greening are increasingly designed to serve powerful economic actors in aspiring global cities and regions like San Francisco, prevailing, historically and culturally rooted understandings of sustainability are often reframed and redefined in a more instrumentalist, market-oriented direction. The latter approach comes into conflict with classic understandings of the “3 E’s” of sustainability—in which economic concerns are balanced with and equal to those of equity and ecology. And they pose fundamental questions about what and how environmental justice politics are to be practiced today. The chapter aims to contribute to such emergent politics and scholarship by advancing a critical approach to "sustainability" that takes seriously the role of power, place, and history in shaping our use of the term.

Keywords:   sustainability, San Francisco, greening, environmental justice, politics, luxury city

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