Nov 10, 2017 in Analysis

Planet of Slums


The book, ‘Planet of Slums’ was written by Mike Davis and published in London by Verso publishers. The book was first issued in 2006 and is a reflection of the future world where population growth will influence the rate of urbanization and slums expansion.  Mike Davis is a famous Marxist and historian who is concerned with the effects of industrialization on the society and urbanization. He is a renowned critic of the neoliberal ideologies and policies. The book focuses on the concept of social globalization and capitalism that gained roots during the industrial revolution era. According to the United Nations Organization statistics, more than one billion people live in cities’ slums. In Davis ambitious works, he explores the future of the unstable and expanding the urban world. Stretching from the large Lima barricadas to the waste hills of Manila, urbanization has been separated from industrialization and economic development. Davis describes broad humankind sheltered in shantytowns and isolated from the formal global economy. The book explains the world’s distorted future of urban cities as a result of social globalization. It depicts the relationship between the slums life and the concept of conspiracy and labor among women.

The title of the book, ‘Planet of Slums,' is well selected to depict the future nature of the world characterized by cities divided into wealthy suburbs and slums. The author describes how a significant percentage of the global population lives in deteriorating towns and is isolated from the real world by slums. 'Planet of Slums' means that majority of the global population will continue living in poverty and struggle to seek fortune from the urban areas. Davis describes the scenario that economic and social factors separate the slum dwellers. For instance, the capitalists and the laborers will live in different environments as a result of the globalization of capitalism.  According to the previous classes, it was found out that capitalism is the status characterized by ownership of the mean of production (Klein 2015, 86). Marxism ideologies describe capitalists as the people who exploit surplus labor to create wealth (Davis 2006, 44). The factors of production are situated in cities, and consequently, the manual low-wage laborers move and live in cheap and congested villages in towns.

The author successfully incorporates the concept of social globalization through the global spread of slums since the beginning of urbanization in Europe. Social globalizations involves the proliferation of social factors such as culture, family structures, consumerism and interaction with nature Davis 2006, 69). For instance, in ‘planet of slums,' Davis talks about the congested family structures in slums that spread from Manila to Lima. The author ignores the economic promises of benefits that may arise in future to those that migrate from the rural to urban areas. He identifies the future problems that arise as a result of the growth in the world population and cultural exchanges.

One of the social issues that Davis identifies is the possibility of the occurrence of future ecological hazards. In his analysis, he exhibits ecology as a contributing factor that will lead to the growth of slums. Davis views slum environment as a product of geological challenges (Davis 2006, 122).  For instance, most of the settlements near mining sights are situated on unstable sites, and the informal settlements are characterized by filth and toxic air and water. Besides, many Brazilian slums are also located on weathered rocks that are prone to landslides. However, David Klein, 2015, (11), noted that ecologic hazard are as a result of human activities rather than as causes of people’s destruction of nature. In Klien’s works, he differs with the Davis idea of geology causing slums problems in the world. David argues that the tendency of capitalists to seek wealth through mining and deforestation leads to deteriorating environments.

Moreover, capitalism and globalization are associated with the increase in global warming problems. Capitalists exploit nature and labor to gain wealth. For instance, it involves using the land to extract minerals, use water and develop infrastructure for future income benefits. The poor utilization of these resources leads to the problem of desertification, drought, and flood in various areas.  Also, global warming leads to the rise in sea levels resulting to melting of the glaciers in the Arctic regions (Klein 2015, 51). The problem resulted in the displacement of people leaving in near the seas and oceans. Davis relates this argues that the problems lead to migration of individuals from some areas to the cities to form slums. In Mike’s works, he notes that the Marxist idea of capitalism and proletariats dissatisfaction will lead to the development of histories of the main world cities Davis 2006, 57). According to him, application of the Marxist theory in the postcolonial regimes influenced the struggles of the poor in the third world nations. The post-colonial error facilitated the works of the former masters leading to further widening the economic gap between the rich, the bourgeoisies and the proletariat.

Capitalism cannot solve the problem of slum development and climate change issues. According to Klein, they are mutually exclusive events that do not relate. For instance, the since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the capitalist have gained immunity from public scrutinization and evaluation. They political influence possessed by the wealthy makes it difficult to execute legal measure against the people destroying the environment.  Davis’s book relates to these concepts by pointing out the racial zone adopted by the post-colonial high-class people Davis 2006, 45). In ‘Planet of Slums,' the racial segregation of the imperial classes was conducted to defend their social classes; a behavior that continues even after the end of the colonial era. The author notes that urban slums will continue to develop as a result of the spatial exclusivity. The study of growing of urban slums can only be conducted and analyzed by people who lived in the areas to avoid political bias that hides the reality to develop positive images.

Davis, in Planet of Slums, strengthens the role of women in labor in the slums. The growth of capitalism in Marxist theories led to the division of labor between men and females. For instance, in Conspiracy and Labor, women play the role of caregivers to migrants, and besides, the migrant women are responsible for taking care of their families in return. The illustration of Carmen the domestic worker in Rome and also as an employer in the Philippines describes the concept of globalization of labor division in the world (Paranas 2000, 236). The role of women in the society does not change in any of the localities. Besides, the international division of reproductive labor has led to increasing in women participation in the workforce but no decrease in the domestic roles as in the case of Asia and America. Davis uses Marxist ideas to relate his prophecy of growth of future city slums. He concludes that the planet of slums will grow as a result of the relationship between, capitalism, the proletariat and the ecology. The role of women in the slums will continue to increase as they balance the domestic responsibilities and struggle to end poverty in the slums (Paranas 2000, 242).

In conclusion, the book, ‘Planet of Slums’ is a successful focus on the future growth of informal urban settlement as a result of the past, present and future activities of the capitalist to proletariat relationships. Davis works are crucial in relating the concept of social globalization, conspiracy, and the role of women in the division of labor. The book is recommendable to scholars with the quest to understand the relationship between globalization of slums in future cities.



Works Cited

Davis, Mike. Planet of Slums. London: Verso. 2006. 

Klein, David. Capitalism and Climate Change:The Science and Politics of Global Warming.  Amazon Digital Services LLC. (2015). 1-156.

Paranas, Rhacel, S.  Migrant Filipina Domestic Workers and the International Division of Reproductive Labor.  Gender and Society, vol. 14, no. 4. (2000)236-245.

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