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Neighbourhoods and the politics of scale


Widmer, Céline; van der Heiden, Nico (2012). Neighbourhoods and the politics of scale. In: Annual Congress of the Swiss Political Science Association, Lucerne, 2 February 2012 - 3 February 2012, 23.

Abstract

It is argued that the process of globalisation undermines the nation-state. From the perspective of the rescaling theory, however, the argument would rather be that the spatial dimensions of the state are being reorganised, leading to an upscaling as well as a downscaling of political steering capacities. With global cities becoming more important as nodes of capital accumulation, this results in a greater significance of locational politics for these cities. Although it has been researched how the neoliberal agenda has trickled down from the national level to the city, literature on rescaling has widely ignored the role of the sub-local scale. We argue that the neighbourhood scale has gained importance in the "politics of scale" because city governments and even national governments are increasingly shifting neoliberal projects to the sub-local scale.
We present empirical evidence on the Swiss politics of neighbourhood scale with a case study analysis of two deprived Zurich neighbourhoods. Based on qualitative expert interviews and an in-depth document analysis, we show that the cities' policy to increase the quality of life in distressed neighbourhoods is closely related to Zurich's overall economic strategy to promote the attractiveness of the city as a whole. We also show that political entities have discovered neighbourhoods as a relevant scale. We thus conclude our paper by pleading for a scalarly open analysis of the neoliberal turn, which has to include the sub-local scale.

Abstract

It is argued that the process of globalisation undermines the nation-state. From the perspective of the rescaling theory, however, the argument would rather be that the spatial dimensions of the state are being reorganised, leading to an upscaling as well as a downscaling of political steering capacities. With global cities becoming more important as nodes of capital accumulation, this results in a greater significance of locational politics for these cities. Although it has been researched how the neoliberal agenda has trickled down from the national level to the city, literature on rescaling has widely ignored the role of the sub-local scale. We argue that the neighbourhood scale has gained importance in the "politics of scale" because city governments and even national governments are increasingly shifting neoliberal projects to the sub-local scale.
We present empirical evidence on the Swiss politics of neighbourhood scale with a case study analysis of two deprived Zurich neighbourhoods. Based on qualitative expert interviews and an in-depth document analysis, we show that the cities' policy to increase the quality of life in distressed neighbourhoods is closely related to Zurich's overall economic strategy to promote the attractiveness of the city as a whole. We also show that political entities have discovered neighbourhoods as a relevant scale. We thus conclude our paper by pleading for a scalarly open analysis of the neoliberal turn, which has to include the sub-local scale.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords:politics of scale, neighbourhood policy, rescaling, urban entrepreneurialism
Language:English
Event End Date:3 February 2012
Deposited On:14 Feb 2013 14:30
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:26

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