Faculty + Staff

UCLA Public Affairs scholars honored for proposing new framework for urban studies

Michael Storper and Allen Scott are recognized for their critical assessment of current urban theory


Two UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs scholars are being recognized for framing diverse theoretical approaches to the study of urbanization as a common language, or foundational concept — an effort that has enlivened an ongoing debate and sparked a bit of controversy.


Michael Storper

Michael Storper of the UCLA Department of Urban Planning and his longtime colleague and collaborator Allen Scott have been selected by the journal Urban Studies as recipients of the Best Article award for 2016’s “Current Debates in Urban Theory: A Critical Assessment.”

The Urban Studies Best Article designation is awarded by the editors and authors to the most innovative and agenda-setting article published in a given year. Mark Stephens is editor of the international journal, which was established in 1964. The winning article was selected in a process that narrowed a field of 20 initial candidates to five before the final selection was made.

Allen Scott

Storper is a distinguished professor of regional and international development at UCLA Luskin, and Scott is a distinguished professor emeritus of public policy and geography. Their article proposed an analytical framework for urban studies while strongly critiquing three existing and influential perspectives: postcolonial urban theory, assemblage theory and planetary urbanism.

In refuting other theoretical formulations of what defines urban, Storper and Scott conclude: “We must distinguish between phenomena that occur in cities but are not generated by urbanization processes as such, and phenomena that are legitimately elements of cities in the sense that they play an active role in defining the shape and logic of urban outcomes.”

The full article and lists of other finalists and previous winners are available online, as is a video explanation by Storper.

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