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First published January 2002

Communities of the Postindustrial City


The authors discern the community structure of the postindustrial city, with reference to Australia. They focus empirically on three major types of Australian urban center: urban regions, metropolitan areas that are not part of urban regions, and other major cities. These three account for almost three-quarters of the Australian population. The authors draw on a conceptualization formulated by Marcuse and van Kempen to guide the analysis, with a combination of cluster analysis and discriminant analysis being applied to aggregate (essentially census) data to identify the communities. Nine major Australian urban communities are identified—four are affluent, four are disadvantaged, and one is a working-class community. The communities found, however, differed greatly from those cited in the Marcuse and van Kempen schema.

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1. Wright (1985) made the distinction between classes according to the resources that they own and/or control. The major division is between those who do and do not own property (i.e., productive assets, such as factories, stocks, and shares). This distinguishes classes of owners from classes of nonowners. Classes of owners are capitalists (bourgeoisie—the elite) and the petite bourgeoisie (essentially the self-employed). Classes of nonowners are the working class and the middle classes. Classes of nonowners are distinguished according to whether they have control over work process and/or have independence in work processes. Those who have one or both of these assets are the middle classes; those who have neither of these assets are the working classes. Those who have both organizational assets and credentials are expert managers, those who only have credentials are expert nonmanagers, and those with organizational assets only are nonexpert managers. It is important to note that class structure—and Wright’s specifically—is different from an occupational classification, such as that of Reich’s (1992). For example, a self-employed physician would, in class terms, be defined as petite bourgeoisie, but a physician who is an employee would be a member of one of the middle classes. Yet according to Reich’s occupational schema, both are symbolic analysts because both are professionals.
2. Both the occupation score and the industry score were calculated using factor analysis. In both cases, the relevant variables are included in a factor analysis and the relevant factor scores derived. These factor scores then became the summary variables accounting for occupation and industry structure. Variables with higher importance in the data set are given higher weightings.


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Article first published: January 2002
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Published online: January 1, 2002
Issue published: January 2002



Robert Stimson
University of Queensland
Kevin O’Connor

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