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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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
This article characterizes and evaluates a paradigm case of urban collaborative governance: the so-called Nantes model. Stressing its positioning in the particular tradition of French politics and drawing on poststructuralist discourse theory, this article demonstrates how the myth of the jeu à la Nantaise (the Nantes game) informs a discourse of urban collaborative governance with a distinctive triad of policy goals. In the context of fiscal tightening and multiple crises, this governance practice involves various strategies designed to incorporate neighborhoods and communities in the co-production of public policies in a pragmatic way. Analyzing the grammar and forms of these practices reveals that co-governance in Nantes functions as a doctrinal abridgement, leading to a growing managerialization in an increasingly codified system of community participation. We thus conclude that one line of flight in the Nantes model signifies a movement away from an image of collaborative pragmatism as a complex praxis of governing to an ideology that conceals the complications and messiness of governing in a collaborative manner.