Economic and Racial Justice Coalitions and the Rise of Progressive Cities

Published In

Journal of Urban Affairs

Document Type


Publication Date



Resurgent movements against inequality have returned the topic of progressive cities to the urban politics agenda. This paper documents the growth of economic and racial justice (ERJ) coalitions and assesses the key role they play in progressive politics. Where a growing body of research uses a racial capital analysis of inequality to lodge normative critiques about the problems facing cities, ERJ coalitions use racial capital analysis as a practical tool for expanding coalitions, linking allied causes and creating a political agenda larger than the sum of its constituent parts. Drawing on an inventory of participating organizations and representative campaigns, and a comparison of ERJ coalitions in Chicago and Denver, we show that ERJ coalitions (1) integrate analysis, discourse and action on economic and racial inequality in ways that strengthen both causes; (2) work through territorial and scalar networks that extend the power of urban social movements; and (3) use language and analysis of structural racism to expand activism to structural issues previously immune to urban activism, including fiscal austerity, state policy and environmental racism.


© 2023 Urban Affairs Associatio



Persistent Identifier