Manufacturing Decline

How Racism and the Conservative Movement Crush the American Rust Belt

Jason Hackworth

Columbia University Press

Manufacturing Decline

Pub Date: October 2019

ISBN: 9780231193733

336 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: October 2019

ISBN: 9780231193726

336 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.00

Pub Date: October 2019

ISBN: 9780231550475

336 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

Manufacturing Decline

How Racism and the Conservative Movement Crush the American Rust Belt

Jason Hackworth

Columbia University Press

For decades, the distressed cities of the Rust Belt have been symbols of deindustrialization and postindustrial decay, their troubles cast as the inevitable outcome of economic change. The debate about why the fortunes of cities such as Detroit have fallen looms large over questions of social policy. In Manufacturing Decline, Jason Hackworth offers a powerful critique of the role of Rust Belt cities in American political discourse, arguing that antigovernment conservatives capitalized on—and perpetuated—these cities’ misfortunes by stoking racial resentment.

Hackworth traces how the conservative movement has used the imagery and ideas of urban decline since the 1970s to advance their cause. Through a comparative study of shrinking Rust Belt cities, he argues that the rhetoric of the troubled “inner city” has served as a proxy for other social conflicts around race and class. In particular, conservatives have used images of urban decay to craft “dog-whistle” messages to racially resentful whites, garnering votes for the Republican Party and helping justify limits on local autonomy in distressed cities. The othering of predominantly black industrial cities has served as the basis for disinvestment and deprivation that exacerbated the flight of people and capital. Decline, Hackworth contends, was manufactured both literally and rhetorically in an effort to advance austerity and punitive policies. Weaving together analyses of urban policy, movement conservatism, and market fundamentalism, Manufacturing Decline highlights the central role of racial reaction in creating the problems American cities still face.
Manufacturing Decline is a sobering yet essential read for anyone who is interested in the fate of America’s inner cities. This recovery of the politics behind—and, indeed, that created—the devastating decline of key cities such as Detroit is deeply unsettling but ultimately uplifting. As Jason Hackworth makes clear, just as America’s inner cities can be deliberately unmade to serve the political agenda of conservatives, so might they be remade in ways that could actually benefit all citizens equally. Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy
Manufacturing Decline implicates conservative thought leadership, anti-urban interests, and elite—and ordinary—laissez-faire racism in a deliberate, decades-long degradation of U.S. cities via privation, demolition, and desertion. It is a thoughtful, stimulating, and efficient read at the intersection of urban geography, planning, and the social sciences. Michael Leo Owens, author of God and Government in the Ghetto: The Politics of Church-State Collaboration in Black America
Manufacturing Decline convincingly argues that, while the disappearance of manufacturing jobs affected Rust Belt cities, their decline was not inevitable. Jason Hackworth provides a marvelous exposition of how this decline was largely produced by the rise of neoliberal policies emphasizing free markets while deliberately overlooking the region’s long history of racial disparities. Reynolds Farley, coauthor of Detroit Divided
Timely reading for troubled times...a sturdy exploration of a continuing problem. Kirkus Reviews
List of Abbreviations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Organized Deprivation in the American Rust Belt
Part I. Othering the Deprived City
1. Racial Threat and Urban Decline
2. Urban Decline as Conservative Bonding Capital
3. The Conservative Myth of Detroit
Part II. Depriving the Othered City
4. Conservative City Limits
5. Land-Market Fundamentalism
6. Demolition as Urban Policy
7. Saving the City to Kill It
Conclusion: Urban Decline Was Planned
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Jason Hackworth is a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Neoliberal City: Governance, Ideology, and Development in American Urbanism (2007) and Faith Based: Religious Neoliberalism and the Politics of Welfare in the United States (2012).