The Neoliberal City

The Neoliberal City: Governance, Ideology, and Development in American Urbanism

Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Neoliberal City
    Book Description:

    The shift in the ideological winds toward a "free-market" economy has brought profound effects in urban areas. The Neoliberal City presents an overview of the effect of these changes on today's cities. The term "neoliberalism" was originally used in reference to a set of practices that first-world institutions like the IMF and World Bank impose on third-world countries and cities. The support of unimpeded trade and individual freedoms and the discouragement of state regulation and social spending are the putative centerpieces of this vision. More and more, though, people have come to recognize that first-world cities are undergoing the same processes.

    In The Neoliberal City, Jason Hackworth argues that neoliberal policies are in fact having a profound effect on the nature and direction of urbanization in the United States and other wealthy countries, and that much can be learned from studying its effect. He explores the impact that neoliberalism has had on three aspects of urbanization in the United States: governance, urban form, and social movements. The American inner city is seen as a crucial battle zone for the wider neoliberal transition primarily because it embodies neoliberalism's antithesis, Keynesian egalitarian liberalism.

    Focusing on issues such as gentrification in New York City; public-housing policy in New York, Chicago, and Seattle; downtown redevelopment in Phoenix; and urban-landscape change in New Brunswick, N.J., Hackworth shows us how material and symbolic changes to institutions, neighborhoods, and entire urban regions can be traced in part to the rise of neoliberalism.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6159-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Chapter 1 The Place, Time, and Process of Neoliberal Urbanism
    (pp. 1-14)

    During his largely symbolic quest for the 2004 Democratic Party presidential nomination, Dennis Kucinich became an iconoclast for the economic justice Left in the United States. After entering the race, he immediately separated himself from the rest of the candidates by calling for the abolition of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the unilateral withdrawal of troops in Iraq, and the creation of universal health care. Soon he became featured in Mother Jones and The Nation and began appearing at fundraising outings in Hollywood that were remarkably successful—at least compared to other candidates with his politics. One of...

  6. Part 1. Governing the Neoliberal City

    • Chapter 2 Choosing a Neoliberal Path
      (pp. 17-39)

      As Molotch (1976) and many others have argued, the political and institutional inertia around the goal of economic growth can be extremely powerful, eclipsing most other concerns about progressive reform. The “choice” of officials in Mayor Kucinich’s position is often heavily influenced by this imperative for growth and the institutions that support it. Despite generalized agreement around this point, however, a highly problematic, localized notion of autonomy is still found within the urban politics literature—regime theory in particular, but also, more surprisingly, in radical accounts of urban politics as well (see, for example, Cox 1993). Much of this literature...

    • Chapter 3 The Glocalization of Governance
      (pp. 40-60)

      The summary removal of redistributive state power is the normative ideal for neoliberals, but as Hayek was quick to point out over 40 years ago, decentralized state power is the next best thing:

      While it has always been characteristic of those favoring an increase in governmental powers to support maximum concentration of these powers, those mainly concerned with individual liberty have generally advocated decentralization. There are strong reasons why action by local authorities generally offers the next-best solution where private initiative cannot be relied upon to provide certain services and where some sort of collective action is therefore needed; for...

    • Chapter 4 The Public-Private Partnership
      (pp. 61-76)

      One of the foundations of neoliberal governance at the local level is public-private cooperation. These alliances can vary considerably in form, but city governments are increasingly expected to serve as market facilitators, rather than salves for market failures. Cities have moved from a managerialist role under Keynesianism to an entrepreneurial one under neoliberalism (Harvey 1989b). No longer are cities as able to establish regulatory barriers to capital; on the contrary, they are expected to lower such barriers. An entire body of academic literature—regime theory—has arisen to address public-private partnerships and such entrepreneurial behavior, but knowledge of how such...

  7. Part 2. The Acceleration of Uneven Development

    • Chapter 5 The Neoliberal Spatial Fix
      (pp. 79-97)

      Cities have long been considered very physical expressions of social relations, movements, and ideologies (Fainstein 2001; Harvey 1985), so it stands to reason that physical changes can provide some insight into broader political change—neoliberalism being one example—that converge to produce and reproduce everyday urban life. Unfortunately, the connection between urban form and neoliberalism is ignored by most scholars of neoliberalism. For a consideration of this connection, we must turn to a more explicitly geographical scholarship. The work of Harvey (1989a; 1985) and N. Smith (1996; 1990) provides a particularly useful schema for understanding the connection between political restructuring...

    • Chapter 6 The Reinvested Urban Core
      (pp. 98-122)

      Perhaps the most striking feature of the investment maps presented in chapter 5 is the dramatic restructuring of the inner city—even in places that are completely dominated by their suburbs. Beneath the abstraction of these maps is a process often referred to as “gentrification,” as it involves the restructuring of urban space for a wealthier clientele. On the most basic material level, this involves the revaluation of inner city space—the replacement or displacement of the poor by the more affluent. On a symbolic level it represents much more. Gentrification can be seen as the material and symbolic knife-edge...

    • Chapter 7 Neoliberal Gentrification
      (pp. 123-149)

      Though gentrification clearly has the potential to materialize at the super-neighborhood level, much of the interest in gentrification is linked to the understanding that it is a highly localized process that articulates broader politico-economic forces like globalization (N. Smith 2002), uneven development (N. Smith 1982), and culture change (Ley 1996). That is, gentrification can serve as a revealing window into much broader processes like neoliberalism. But exactly how processes like neoliberalism articulate themselves locally is anything but straightforward. The location, history, and demographics of a particular neighborhood are all important factors in how neoliberalism gets localized through gentrification. Conversely, changes...

    • Chapter 8 Mega-Projects in the Urban Core: Bread or Circus?
      (pp. 150-172)

      In Michael Moore’s classic film Roger and Me, the Rouse Corporation’s now-defunct Autoworld was used to show the often desperate lengths to which city officials will go to return people and investment to downtown. Autoworld was a public-private response to the crushing economic travails that have plagued Flint, Michigan, since the late 1970s (but particularly since the early 1980s, when GM closed its largest plant there). Federal, state, and local money was provided to create an almost risk-free atmosphere for Rouse to come in and revitalize downtown. Like many other of its developments, including Boston’s Faneuil Hall, Baltimore’s Harborplace, and...

  8. Part 3. Contesting the Neoliberal City

    • Chapter 9 Social Struggle in a Neoliberal Policy Landscape
      (pp. 175-187)

      Neoliberal urbanism is highly segmented and far from complete. Public housing, social welfare, and other Keynesian artifacts still exist, and their destruction is neither inevitable nor complete. But while the segmented and contradictory nature of implemented neoliberalism has been made abundantly clear by a variety of scholars, the difficulties of political organizing within this context have received less notice (for notable exceptions, see Gilbert 2001; Glassman 2001). This chapter attempts to begin this discussion by exploring efforts to retain public housing in the United States. It uses such efforts to explore whether the fight for basic necessities (adequate food, housing,...

    • Chapter 10 Alternative Futures at the End of History
      (pp. 188-204)

      In 1989, scarcely months before the Berlin Wall fell, a little-known U.S. State Department policy planner, Francis Fukuyama, wrote an essay entitled “The End of History?” (1989). In it, he surmised that the battle of ideologies was over; that rationalism had defeated tribalism; that capitalism had defeated communism; that democracy had finally overcome aristocracy and fascism. All we had left to fear was centuries of boredom, and an occasional pre-historical ideology causing a regional skirmish now and again. Western liberal democracy was set to spread uncontested across the globe, as all major pre-historical challenges had been defeated. His provocative essay...

    (pp. 205-222)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 223-232)