At a moment when national politics across the globe indicate the failure of neoliberal policies and governance, cities have emerged as limited but vital laboratories for progressive change, and as the emblematic site of contentious politics and protest for the twenty-first century. From the streets of Buenos Aires to Zuccotti Park, the contributors to this volume argue that the city is becoming like the factory of old: a site of production and profit-making as well as new forms of solidarity, resistance, and social reimagining. The City is the Factory provides both theoretical analysis, and empirical overview, of the varied efforts of urban workers and citizens to attain their “right to the city” and from there, a more just world.
We see examples of the city as factory in new place-based political alliances, as workers and the unemployed find common cause with community-based struggles. Some efforts are limited to individual cities, while others engage coalitional urban politics that cross states and national boundaries. The case studies and essays in The City Is the Factory profile the work lives and organizing efforts of street vendors, retail workers, port truckers, and day laborers, as well as “right to the city” campaigns focused on environmental justice, immigrant rights, and fair employment, among others. Together, they provide descriptions and analysis of the form, substance, limits, and possibilities of these timely urban struggles.