Cecil Beamish

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Dr. M. J. Dear


This thesis examines the development of the public city (the increasing concentration of service-dependent populations and their helping agencies in the inner city) in North America, during the last decade. A historical materialist explanation of public city development is provided. The welfare state and the suburban form of the city are derived as structural solutions to previous impediments of the accumulation process. Inherent contradictions in these solutions are examined and the way in which they have intensified have been outlined. The public city is then viewed as an emerging structural solution to the inherent contradictions of the welfare state and and the suburban form of the city. The central city is the focus of public city development because of the characteristic features which it attained as the developing corollary of the suburban city during the suburbanization process. The gradual intensification of contradictions in the suburban form of the city made it an increasingly unsuitable and hostile environment for the service-dependent, forcing them to increasingly concentrate in the inner city. Simultaneously, the specific processes of restructuring the welfare state during the period of crisis have led to a marked intensification of public city development.

Historical analysis of the process of restructuring the Canadian Welfare State in Ontario highlighted the links between the economic crisis, the process of restructuring and the development of the public city. Service-dependent populations examined in this thesis include ex-psychiatric patients, mentally retarded, physically disabled, elderly, probationers and parolees. The results of the analysis of each of these populations indicated that restructuring of the welfare state had increasingly concentrated these populations in the inner city, leading to a rapid intensification of public city development.

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