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The role of mobile policies in coalition building: the Barcelona model as coalition magnet in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro (1989-1996)

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gabriel SilvestreORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Research on policy mobility has tended to focus on what moves (e.g. policy models, templates) and who moves them (e.g. consultants, international organisations), with less attention paid to the relational politics of grounding dominant ideas in local policymaking. The ‘demand side’ at the end of the mobilisation process (e.g. local authorities and policy actors) is usually depicted as passive or as having stable interests. This assumption is problematic as it can reinforce taken-for-granted power asymmetries in the flow of urban policy ideas, particularly in cases where cities in the Global North are presented as ‘exporting sites’ for a Global South audience of ‘importing sites’. Drawing on the concept of policy ideas as ‘coalition magnets’ from policy studies, this article demonstrates how local policies are relationally produced by cosmopolitan policy actors on the ‘demand side’ who strategically mobilise circulating ideas as a tool for coalition building. We provide a relational comparative study of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro’s policy processes and urban outcomes in mobilising the Barcelona model of urban regeneration and strategic planning, drawing on evidence from interviews, document analysis and the biographies of key policy actors. We demonstrate the strategic importance of mobile policies for emerging political actors who employ them as a ‘coalition magnet’ to build support for their governments.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Silvestre G, Jajamovich G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Urban Studies

Year: 2021

Volume: 58

Issue: 11

Pages: 2310-2328

Print publication date: 01/08/2021

Online publication date: 29/07/2020

Acceptance date: 12/06/2020

Date deposited: 02/08/2021

ISSN (print): 0042-0980

ISSN (electronic): 1360-063X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/0042098020939808


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Funder referenceFunder name
BEX 0704/12-1