批判城市理论的概念是建立在一种直接对立关系的基础上的，这种对立关系不仅直接继承了城市知识，而且还采用了一定的现有城市形态。该理论强调这样一个事实，即高度民主、高度可持续和社会公正的城市化概念是一种巨大的可能性，即使这些可能性没有得到促进或目前受到相对占主导地位的实践和意识形态的压制。城市政治的概念一直被一个进步的议程所强调。进步主义者包括哲学家、社会批评家、历史学家、政治家和最高法院法官。他们中有些是共和党的进步主义者，比如西奥多·罗斯福，有些是民主党的进步主义者，比如伍德罗·威尔逊。他们都起来反对从内战开始就盛行的自由放任的社会和经济政策。他们通常认为，如果使用得当，像现代科学、效率方法和社会规划这样的工具可以用于创造积极的社会变革(Cohen & Ball 252)。进步人士也都反对企业垄断和政治利益，因为他们的目的只是剥削和控制群众。这一点在政体理论和马克思主义城市理论中也很明显。
进步主义者总是试图在一贯的基础上处理城市政治问题。为了解决这些问题，一些进步人士试图为城市贫困儿童建造公园和游乐场，他们也试图为他们清理城市街道(Bryk & Schneider 20)。在这方面，雅各布·里斯(Jacob Riis)写了一本书，在书中他收集了纽约市贫民窟的各种照片。雅各布在他的书中以某种方式说服了纽约立法者在1901年通过了《廉租房法案》，该法案最终禁止建造通风不良的建筑。1911年，曼哈顿三角衬衫公司(Triangle Shirtwaist Company)因缺乏安全防护措施而发生火灾，最终导致146名员工丧生。这些雇员中有一些是没有特权的妇女，她们不能对雇主做太多不利的事。所有的雇员都在极恶劣的条件下工作(霍克斯比1192)。社会工作者弗朗西丝·帕金斯(Frances Perkins)强烈要求通过一项法律，在这方面强制规定更好的防火和更清洁的工作条件。进步主义者处理各种各样的问题，提出了各种各样的解决办法，例如认识到工业世界中日益增长的不平等的群众财富分配在社会上产生了各种各样的社会罪恶。
The notion of critical urban theory has been grounded on a directly antagonistic relationship that has not only directly inherited urban knowledge but has also adopted certain existing urban formations. The theory emphasizes on the fact that a highly democratic, highly sustainable and socially just notion of urbanization is a massive possibility even if these possibilities have not been promoted or have been currently suppressed by relatively dominant practices and ideologies.The notion of urban politics has consistently been highlighted by a Progressive agenda. Progressives comprise of philosophers, social critics, historians, politicians and Supreme Court justices. Some of them were Republican Progressives like Theodore Roosevelt and some of them were Democratic Progressives like Woodrow Wilson. They were all up together against the laissez-faire social and economic policies which were prevailing from the beginning of the Civil War. They generally used to believe that, if utilized appropriately, tools like modern science, methods of efficiency, and social planning could be used for the purpose of creating a positive social change (Cohen & Ball 252). Progressives were also all up against the corporate monopolies and political interests because their purpose was just to exploit and control the masses. This is also evident in the regime theory and Marxist urban theory.
The progressives have always tried to deal with issues of urban politics on a consistent basis. In order to deal with such issues, some of the progressives tried to build parks and playgrounds for the urban poor children and they also tried to clean up municipal streets for them as well (Bryk & Schneider 20). Jacob Riis in this regard formed a book in which he compiled various photos of New York City’s slums. Through his book Jacob somehow convinced the New York legislators to pass the Tenement House Act in the year 1901 which eventually prohibited the construction of poorly ventilated structures. In the year 1911, a fire occurred at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in Manhattan due to lack of safeguards which eventually killed 146 employees. Included among those employees had been the unprivileged women that were unable to do much against their employers. All of the employees were working abysmal conditions (Hoxby 1192). A social worker, Frances Perkins, pressed for a law to mandate the regulation of better fireproofing and cleaner working conditions in this regard. The progressives dealt with various issues with a wide range of solutions such as recognizing the fact that the growing unequal distribution of wealth among the masses in the industrial world gives birth to various kinds of social evils in the society.