When I started as a doctoral student, I used to believe that I could read a paper once and fully absorb the key learning. Oh, my goodness! How I have re-calibrated that opinion. After nearly six years in post-graduate education, there are papers in my files that I have re-visited not just once but twice or three times. I can tell how my reading of a paper has changed and developed with each re-reading by looking at the highlighting and marginalia that I leave behind. I’m looking now at the seminal paper by Weick and Roberts, ‘Collective mind in organizations: Heedful interrelating on flight decks’. When I first read this paper, my focus was very intentionally on the literature the authors used to support their argument and all the comments to myself focus on following through on salient pieces that I think might help me to formulate my research question.
Following on from calls to reformat comparative urban methods to support global urban studies, this chapter draws inspiration from policy mobilities to explore how the genetic interconnectedness of urban processes and outcomes can be mobilised methodologically to critique and extend concepts in urban theory through comparison. What might be the scope and tactics for a practice of comparison through connections, which can start anywhere and build comparisons and analytical insights across a very great diversity of urban experiences? This chapter explores three possible ways to take this forward. Firstly, tracing a specific connection, such as a policy link, from one context to another or across a number of different contexts contributes to understanding specific urbanization processes. Secondly, following connections brings into view the range and variety of processes and outcomes in different contexts. In the highly transnationalised world of urban policy this method potentially links a very wide variety of diverse urban contexts and draws attention to a multiplicity of repeated instances of urban forms. Finally, the paper considers the potential to work with the array of transnational processes shaping distinctive policy outcomes and development paths as they come together in one specific place - to explore how “elsewhere” is folded in to localised growth paths. Thus, comparative practices could follow policy mobilities to explore the potential of a more topological imagination to bring a diversity of urban contexts into analytical conversation. Following the trajectories of policy mobilities is thus not only a pathway to inventing new methods but also potentially new grounds for theorizing the urban.