Impacts of Urban Movements in Local Governance

Research on the consequences of social movements is a much debated topic recently (for example, Bosi et al. 2016). The global wave of protests and mobilisations in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis has also renewed the interest on both global and local dimensions of social movements (Flesher 2014). Urban movements, in particular, are also enjoying more attention from scholars after decades of being widely neglected within the field of social movement studies (Cattaneo et al., 2014, Andretta et al. 2015, Jacobsson et al. 2015; Mayer et al.  2016). On the other hand, institutionalist approaches have dominated theories on urban governance and participatory planning (for example, Healey 2003) which is preventing a better understanding of the contentious relationships between autonomous, radical and mainly noninstitutionally-oriented urban movements and local authorities. Urban movements comprise long-lasting mobilisations in the fields of urban goods such as housing, services, public spaces and infrastructures, although quite often they also combine different struggles of urban activism focused on single-issues of collective consumption, urban planning and politics at local and metropolitan scales. Movements’ outcomes in terms of social justice, urban commons, right to the city and opposition to grassroots displacement, segregation, indebtedness and social control are, in particular, a crucial dimension to assess in a context of increasing neo-liberalisation (Harvey 2013). The aim of this session is to share theoretical and empirical research on the impacts that urban movements have had on local government and governance (by assuming the latter as a policy approach in which bottom-up and networked decision-making processes come to the fore). This would entail questions such, and not limited to, the following:

  • The consequences of the co-option of movement activists and organisations by local governments
  • Responsive municipal and metropolitan policies regarding urban movements’ demands
  • Participatory policies with controversial inclusion and exclusion of urban activists as stakeholders
  • Non-institutional impacts of urban movements and indirect linkages with local governance processes
  • Advancements in terms of urban commons and the right to the city due to urban movementsactivism
  • Specific outcomes of anti-austerity and anti-neoliberal movements at local scales
  • Dominant strategies aiming at controlling and integrating urban movements by local authorities
  • Resistance strategies by urban movements while using local opportunities and overcoming repression

 Proposals focused on European cities as well as on other urban contexts worldwide, especially those dated after 2008, are welcome. Critical, post-structuralist and political-economy approaches, let alone discussions with the prevailing paradigms in the fields of social movement studies and local governance, are preferred. Both posters and oral presentations will be discussed -the submission of a written paper is also expected anyhow.

Miguel A. Martínez, Uppsala University

Gianni Piazza, University of Catania