Michael Turk


Historical Narrative, Urban Space, and a New Cast to Urban Economics

This event includes a book signing


June 8, 2018
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes economist and historian MICHAEL TURK for a discussion of his latest book, Historical Narrative, Urban Space, and a New Cast to Urban Economics.

About Historical Narrative, Urban Space, and a New Cast to Urban Economics

A rethinking of urban economics involves transforming time from a metronomic parameter to an assaying of connection, separation, and memory. Accordingly, what should be the proper weighting of history in analyses of the urban economic environment, and how might differing takes on the nature of urban space figure in reimagining such analyses?

From this conceptual turn, mathematical, social, and historical challenges to conventional treatments of urban economics follow. These challenges, though, are hardly discrete.

The social and the historical come together, as collective experience may be manifested in acts by historical agents and be built around governmental laws and rules as well as customary practices. One might also see the social consequences of the assumption of mathematical continuity, implicitly accepting the axiom of mobility, in that the mathematics employed translates into a lack of recognition of the virtues of immobility, namely housing security for the broader community, a social consideration contributing to why housing markets are different.

What emerges is a critique of many of the standard models in urban economics. For, however abstracted models based upon location theory or implicit framing devices, like the imperative of technology or the tension between concentration and dispersal, may be, they must be comprehended as narratives. These economic narratives do not stand alone but must be grounded in history. In the process, one may well find counter-narratives leading to markedly different conclusions, as in the case of rent control or depictions of the role of land speculation in urban development.

Michael Turk
Michael Turk

Michael Turk

Michael Turk is a professor emeritus in economics at Fitchburg State University, having taught there from 1982 to 2015. In his scholarly pursuits, he has tried to bridge economics and history. In his book The Idea of History in Constructing Economics, published in 2015, he delved into and challenged the claims that economics is scientific and sought to establish the proper relationship between economics and history. He has also given special attention to and published on topics in urban economics. This work has been informed by his longstanding advocacy of tenants rights, rent control, and affordable housing in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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