special issue

Special Issue: Worlds of Austerity: Governance and Resistance in Eight Cities

Guest Editor: Jonathan Davies

This issue arises from a cross-national study of urban austerity governance after the global financial crisis. The research was undertaken between 2015 and 2018 in the eight cities of Athens (Greece), Baltimore, Barcelona, Greater Dandenong (Melbourne), Dublin, Leicester, Montreal, and Nantes. The issue comprises eight case study–based papers, together with an introductory essay by Professor Nik Theodore surveying urban austerity governance in the wider context of neoliberalism and neoliberalization globally.

The study, generously supported by the British Economic and Social Research Council, focused particularly on the politics of austerity and patterns of collaborative, or participatory governance in the post-crisis period. We sought to understand both how cities govern austerity and find more-or-less radical ways of resisting it or working around it. Three key messages emerge from the research, reflected in the JUA essays:

  1. Severe austerity corrodes and undermines the potential for constructive local state–civil society relations in a number of ways linked to rising alienation, social-spatial distancing, network damage, the hollowing out of local voluntary and community sectors, and the erosion of participatory spaces.
  2. Austerity bites very unevenly—more so than we expected. Cities able to maintain strong public and welfare services were better able to build and sustain participatory governance mechanisms than those which do not.
  3. Urban politics makes a significant difference to the way cities have been governed in the age of austerity. In particular, strong urban movements allied to municipalities can change the political conversation and create alternatives, notwithstanding hostile national governments and austerity-driven retrenchment.

Readers interested in further details are invited to visit our website at http://cura.our.dmu.ac.uk, where updates on future comparative publications will be posted. A stakeholder facing report is available in English, French, Greek, and Spanish, and can be downloaded from https://cura.our.dmu.ac.uk/category/austerity-governance/.

Table of Contents

1. Governing through austerity: (Il)logics of neoliberal urbanism after the global financial crisis, by Nik Theodore

2. Urban governance and political change under a radical left government: The case of Barcelona, by Ismael Blanco, Yunailis Salazar, & Iolanda Bianchi

3. Austerity governance and bifurcated civil society: The changing matrices of urban politics in Athens, by Ioannis Chorianopoulos & Naya Tselepi

4. Why is austerity governable? A Gramscian urban regime analysis of Leicester, UK, by Jonathan S. DaviesAdrian BuaMercè Cortina Oriol, & Ed Thompson

5. Governing austerity in Dublin: Rationalization, resilience, and resistance, by Niamh Gaynor

6. The logics and limits of “collaborative governance” in Nantes: Myth, ideology, and the politics of new urban regimes, by Steven Griggs, David Howarth, & Andrés Feandeiro

7. “La coopération, c’est clé”: Montreal’s urban governance in times of austerity, by Pierre Hamel & Roger Keil

8. Variations on a collaborative theme: Conservatism, pluralism, and place-based urban policy in Central Dandenong, Melbourne, by Hayley HendersonHelen Sullivan, & Brendan Gleeson

9. The austerity governance of Baltimore’s neighborhoods: “The conversation may have changed but the systems aren’t changing”, by Madeleine Pill

 

 

Professor Jonathan S. Davies is the Director for the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity, located at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK.

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