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Reviewsin brief: Cities of pleasure: sex and the urban socialscape. Edited by Alan Collins. London: Routledge. 2006. 248 pp. £70.00 Cloth. ISBN 0415360129

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Brown, Gavin

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Abstract 401Reviewsin briefCitiesof pleasure: sex and the urban socialscape. Edited by Alan Collins. London:Routledge. 2006. 248 pp. £70.00 Cloth. ISBN 0415360129SAGE Publications, Inc.2008DOI: 10.1177/14744740080150030708GavinBrownDepartment of Geography King's College LondonCitiesof pleasure draws together economists, geographers and other social scientiststo con- sider the growth of sex-based businesses and markets in contemporarycities. This book, which began life as a special issue of Urban studies, isattempting to offer something new to the study of urban sexual geographies – namely a focus on economic processes and a the- oretical perspective thatis not solely reliant on queer theory. These are both important and much neededdevelopments, but neither theme is necessarily explored in ways that willinspire cultural geographers. Many of the arguments offered in the book bycontributors from geography (Bell and Binnie; Hubbard) and sociology (Skeggset al.) are fascinating and insightful, but they will be familiar to manyreaders. However, this work sits a little uneasily beside the work of theedi- tor and other contributors writing from a more traditionally economicperspective. Collins attempts to apply a rational choice economic frameworkto the search for marriage and sex- ual pleasure in contrasting urban andrural settings. Similarly, Cameron applies a `club goods model' in his ideal-typicalmodelling of the evolution of sexual markets in `tolerant' cities. In pursuingthese theoretical explorations, both authors rely on sociobiological perspectiveson402humansexuality that seem politically suspect after two decades of queer critique.In other respects, both authors have valuable new perspectives to offer onthe interaction of micro- and macro-economic processes in the development,towards `maturity', of markets in sexual transactions and the growth of gayurban villages. The chapters in this book tend to fall into one of two camps.Either they proclaim con- temporary cities to be tolerant, emancipatory spacesthat celebrate and enable sexual pleas- ure and diversity; or, they buy intoa revanchist model that sees sexual freedom being curtailed at every turn.Sadly too few of the contributors develop a more nuanced exploration of thecomplexities and contradictions of the both/and dialectic between these twopositions. It is time that sexual geographers take economic processes, transactionsand markets more seriously in our consideration of the sexualization of urbanspaces. However, this book demonstrates that economists could benefit fromengaging with many of the critical insights developed by cultural geographers,feminists and queer theorists, if they are going to study the sexual pleasuresof contemporary city dwellers.
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 401-402
Journal Cultural Geographies, 15 (2008) 3
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)