Market Cities, People Cities

The Shape of Our Urban Future

256 pages

6 illustrations

April, 2018

ISBN: 9781479800261



Add to Cart Available: 3/9/2018

Also available in


Michael Oluf Emerson is Provost and Professor of Urban Studies at North Park University in Chicago, and a Kinder Fellow at Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research. He has authored or co-authored fifteen books, including Divided By Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, Transcending Racial Barriers, and Against All Odds: The Struggle for Racial Integration in Religious Organizations (NYU Press, 2005).

All books by Michael Oluf Emerson

Kevin T. Smiley is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Buffalo.

All books by Kevin T. Smiley

An in-depth look at the urban environments of Houston and Copenhagen

How are modern cities changing, and what implications do those changes have for city inhabitants? What kinds of cities do people want to live in, and what cities do people want to create in the future? Michael Oluf Emerson and Kevin T. Smiley argue that western cities have diverged into two specific and different types: market cities and people cities. Market cities are focused on wealth, jobs, individualism, and economic opportunities. People cities are more egalitarian, with government investment in infrastructure and an active civil society. Analyzing the practices and policies of cities with two separate foci, markets or people, has substantial implications both for everyday residents and future urban planning and city development. 

Market Cities, People Cities examines these diverging trends through extended case studies of Houston, Texas as a market city and Copenhagen, Denmark as a people city, and draw on data from nearly 100 other cities. Emerson and Smiley track the history of how these two types of cities have been created, and how they function for governments and residents in various ways, examining transportation, the environment, and inequality, among other topics. Market Cities, People Cities also outlines the means and policies cities can adapt in order to become more of a market- or people-focused city. The afterword reflects on Houston’s response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. 

As twenty-first century cities diverge, Market Cities, People Cities is essential for urban dwellers anxious to be active in their pursuit of their best cities, as well as anyone looking to the future of cities around the world. 


  • Market Cities, People Cities completely changes our vocabulary about how cities evolve. Michael O. Emerson and Kevin T. Smiley give urban decision makers a new way to understand their cities and shape their policies to create the kind of city that is right for their city’s residents.”

    —William Fulton, Author of Talk City: A Chronicle of Political Life in an All-American Town

  • "Emerson and Smiley have a fresh approach. They make a real distinction in how cities operate: what citizenship and welfare mean, what infrastructure means, and how environmental crisis can be addressed. They also are doing something excellent in bringing up social democracies and using them as a tool for pointing forward and gaining broader understanding. It's about time we paid attention to social democracies. . .This book takes it to the urban front."

    —Harvey Molotch, Author of Against Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways and Other Sites of Ambiguous Dan