SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2015, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (4): 402-409.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2015.04.402

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Los Angeles School and Its Impacts on Disciplines of Human Geography

Bin-dong SUN, Xu-hong WEI(), Ting WANG   

  1. The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies/The School of Urban and Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai, 200241, China
  • Received:2013-12-23 Accepted:2014-04-10 Online:2015-04-20 Published:2015-04-20


Emerging at the end of 1980s, urban theorists, cultural critics and social commentators have devoted a tremendous amount of attention to the study of Los Angeles. This attention derives from the complex theoretical and practical urban issues in Los Angeles, and also from the continuous competition among the power of globalization, which obviously influenced the general economic order all over the world. Los Angeles School (LA School) is constructed by a group of geography scholars, such as Edward W. Soja, Allen J. Scott, Michael J. Dear, Mike Davis et al., to generalize their systematic academic points of view. This article aims to make a detailed and systematic introduction to the LA school, and tries to sort out its impacts on many disciplines in the field of human geography. According to the summarization, this article supports that the LA school is based on Soja’s social-spatial dialectics theory. This theory strongly suggests that spatiality also plays a big role in the formation of social relations when the basic production mode in the era and keeps unchanged. Under this theoretical framework, we can see that crisis and reconstruction are just the dialectic’s projection in reality, which means that crisis tends to cause urban reconstruction, and the reconstruction may lead to some new urban crisis at the same time. Los Angeles metropolitan area has provided a vivid interpretation and reasonably exemplified LA school’s basic academic points of view, as well gives us an accurate demonstration of the circulation between urban crisis and reconstruction. Many views of LA School have already made an important influence on the branches of human geography, such as economic geography, urban geography and social geography, providing a lot of important academic hypothesis and ideas for follow-up researches. The main contribution that the LA school has made includes the significant enrichment on the core and traditional idea of the relationship between mankind and nature, as well as the promotion of the new industrial space concept in the field of economic geography. Meanwhile, the case of Los Angeles metropolitan’s typical polycentric spatial structure may be the representative of cities and city-regions in the future, which has already led to much more researches concerning about the description and definition of urban spatial structure, as well as the emergence of some new conceptions such as sub-centers and edge cities. As to social issues LA school regards them as results of social and spatiality relationship, for example, economic restructuring has increased employment but also increased poverty and social polarization, so that LA school strongly stands for the concept of spatial justice, which means no matter which columns or groups the citizens belong to, they should be given equal rights to live, work and enjoy the entertainment in the city. However, the LA school also bears some critical voices and doubts, such as some doubts about its basic epistemologies, which cannot be proved and certificated by regular methods, we have to accept that the LA school still has significant and positive influence in promoting the crucial disciplines in human geography.

Key words: Los Angeles School, postmodern, social-spatial dialectics, new industrial space, polycentric, spatial justice

CLC Number: 

  • K901