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On creating the 'city' as a collective resource

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Patsy Healey OBE


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There has been much critical comment on the 'narrowness' of conceptions of the 'city' mobilised in urban policy in many parts of Europe, which focus on images of the 'competitive' city, the 'European city' or the 'compact' city. This paper explores the multiple meanings of the 'city' and the way a richer array of meanings may be mobilised into strategic resources for collective action in urban governance contexts. The starting-point is the recognition of the complexity and diversity of urban life and its multiple time-space horizons. The first section explores different approaches to imagining cities. The second part comments on the way concepts of 'the city' are currently mobilised in urban governance contexts. In the third part, the paper considers how a richer array of concepts may be mobilised, contested and attached to the strategic governance capacity to 'shape' evolving city futures, converting the 'city' from an often implicit and sometimes contested array of concepts to an active force. In the final section, the paper elaborates on the role of on-going debate about 'the city' as a potentially integrative resource in governance contexts characterised by diffused power and dynamic relations. In such contexts, active debate about the ways to 'read' and give meanings to 'the city' may develop the strategic power to mobilise collective effort, inspire individual initiatives and provide resources for identity formation processes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Healey P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Urban Studies

Year: 2002

Volume: 39

Issue: 10

Pages: 1777-1792

ISSN (print): 0042-0980

ISSN (electronic): 1360-063X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1080/0042098022000002957


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