Virtual Special issues

Urban Studies Virtual Collections

Urban Studies is pleased to announce that the Virtual Special Issue entitled "Urban debates for climate change after the Kyoto Protocol" by Yong Tu is now available online.  

From the catalogue of environment-related publications in Urban Studies, this paper identifies and reviews 12 thought-provoking articles that have addressed the issue of climate changes and cities from complementary perspectives. It argues that to advance a holistic understanding of urban environmental issues it is necessary to embrace a broad multi-disciplinary approach, particularly as moving towards low carbon urban living will require integrated social, political and technical adaptation processes. Ultimately, the paper advances a forward-looking research agenda that extends beyond consideration of how to improve urban environmental performance to include evaluation of how urban consumers, firms and local government endeavour to achieve sustainable urban development.

Other recent VSIs include:

Reclaiming Public Space: Virtual Special Issue edited by Judit Bodnar

By the 1990s the mood of critical urban analysts once again became pessimistic and the end of public space was announced authoritatively. Mike Davis warned that Los Angeles was “inexorably […] mov[ing] to extinguish its last real public spaces, with all of their democratic intoxications, risks, and undeodorized odors” (Davis, 1992: 180). In a similar vein, writing from New York, Michael Sorkin (1992) concluded that the city was becoming a theme park. In the unambiguously entitled edited volume Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space Sorkin described how, along with non-place urban sprawls, the new urbanity was consciously and programmatically preserving and recreating the bare minimum of urban form devoid of the formal and social mix that had once made cities lively and political; “there are no demonstrations in Disneyland” (xv) he famously remarked. Traditional public space was being co-opted in the process of ageographical generalized urbanization.


Urban Studies at 50: A Virtual Special Issue with a Difference

It has become common for academic journals to mark significant anniversaries by putting together virtual special issues. The usual procedure is to collect the most cited articles published in the journal over the years. The Editors of Urban Studies have decided to mark the journal’s 50th birthday by putting together a virtual special issue with a difference. Although citation rates are a significant marker of the importance of an article, they are not the only measure, and not necessarily the best one either, particularly with regard to an interdisciplinary journal such as Urban Studies. Different disciplines have different citation practices, for example, and citing has moreover changed over time; certainly, a strong case can be made that contemporary academic writing has become plagued by what might be termed “citation inflation”… A high citation rate may furthermore be no guarantor of quality; some articles are frequently cited either because they are ‘wrong’ or because they offer an analysis that is considered contentious......


'The shitty rent business': What's the point of land rent theory. Edited by Callum Ward and Manuel B Aalbers

In this introduction to a virtual special issue on land rent, we sketch out the history of land rent theory, encompassing classical political economy, Marx’s political economy, the marginalist turn and subsequent foundations for urban economics, and the Marxist consensus around rent theory during geography’s spatial turn. We then overview some of the contemporary strands of literature that have developed since the break down of this consensus, namely political economy approaches centred on capital-switching, institutionalism of various stripes, and the rent gap theory. We offer a critical urban political economy perspective and a particular set of arguments run through the review: first, land is not the same as capital but has unique attributes as a factor of production which require a separate theorisation. Second, since the 1970s consensus around land rent and the city dissipated, the critical literature has tended to take the question of why/how the payment exists at all for granted and so has ignored the particular dynamics of rent arising from the idiosyncrasies of land. Amongst the talk of an ‘Anthropocene’ and ‘planetary urbanisation’ it is surprising that the economic fulcrum of the capitalist remaking of geography has fallen so completely off the agenda. It is time to bring rent back into the analysis of land, cities and capitalism.


For a full list of all the Virtual Special Issues published in Urban Studies, please see here




Urban Public Health Emergencies and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Guest Editors: Scott Orford, Phil Hubbard and Yingling Fan

Papers include:

Beyond growth and density: Recentring the demographic drivers of urban health and risk in the global south by James Duminy

Repopulating density: COVID-19 and the politics of urban value by Colin McFarlane

Urban rhythms in a small home: COVID-19 as a mechanism of exception by Jenny Preece, Kim McKee, David Robinson, John Flint


Urban Studies in India across the Millennial Turn: Histories and Futures

Guest Editors: Karen Coelho and Ashima Sood

Remembering the river: Flood, memory and infrastructural ecologies of stormwater drainage in Mumbai by V. Chitra