Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1994


Published in Great Plains Research 4:2 (August 1994). Copyright © 1994 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Over the years reviewers have grown weary of edited volumes. Some recent compendia of geographic research on social change seem to have only confirmed this skeptical altitude. The present book, however, is an exception. The articles were specifically commissioned by the editors according to a well-structured division into nineteen chapters within four major parts. The editors have been careful to focus on clearly defined issues, thus avoiding the trap of misdirection into which some other edited material on this subject has fallen recently. As a result, the book succeeds, overall, in a comprehensive identification of factors and effects relating to the spatial aspects of contemporary social change in Canada's cities.

A short review cannot possibly do justice to this book. The following focuses on selected aspects of the book, with an attempt for some constructive criticism. The first part of the book, Patterns, has four chapters that review the social and demographic configuration of people, households and neighborhoods, and the growth and distribution of population, within the Canadian city. Demography emerges here as the major discipline in both analysis and social policy-making. But shouldn't objectivity of measurement in demography or social ecology, so well exemplified in Chapter 3, be balanced by some personified notions? For example, what is the meaning of the notion "my neighbor," and why is there alienation in cities?