This article can be found in the Special Issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs regarding Worlds of Austerity: Governance and Resistance in Eight Cities.
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Governing through austerity: (Il)logics of neoliberal urbanism after the global financial crisis, by Nik Theodore
With a focus on developments in North America and Europe, this essay explores three dimensions of neoliberal urbanism in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. It begins by examining austerity as neoliberal strategy, highlighting the ways that austerity measures reorganize the institutional matrix of the state, with socially regressive consequences for welfare state provision, the distribution of economic risks and hardships, and the scope of social rights. It then considers the alignment between post-2008 austerity politics and longer-running processes of neoliberal urbanism, exploring the ways in which austerity measures further entrench the logics and rationalities of neoliberalization and arguing that the state governs through austerity, in part by displacing crisis to lower spatial scales. The next section assesses some of the socio-spatial impacts of austerity policies by reflecting on the geographical unevenness of the financial crisis itself and the ways in which hardships are being concentrated socially and spatially. In the context of localized fiscal stresses and concentrated hardship, non-state actors, including civil society and households, bear the brunt of austerity measures. The essay concludes with reflections on neoliberal urbanism “after the crisis.”