Handbook of Urban Geography
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Handbook of Urban Geography

Edited by Tim Schwanen and Ronald van Kempen

This collection brings together the latest thinking in urban geography. It provides a comprehensive overview of topical issues and draws on experiences from across the world. Chapters have been prepared by leading researchers in the field and cover themes as diverse as urban economies, inequalities and diversity, conflicts and politics, ecology and sustainability, and information technologies. The Handbook offers a valuable resource for students and researchers interested in cities and the urban in geography and across the wider social sciences.
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Chapter 25: Urban governance: re-thinking top-down and bottom-up power relations in the wake of neo-liberalization

Mike Raco and Sonia Freire-Trigo


Traditional debates over governance and democratic engagement have drawn on the binary distinction between top-down and bottom-up approaches. The chapter examines some of the shifts that have taken place in the governance and management of urban planning systems in recent decades and argues that such perspectives are increasingly redundant in an era of structural governance reform. It highlights the growing plurality of decision-making structures, governance arrangements, and political demands and the challenges that these pose to policy-makers. Drawing on writings on agonism and neo-liberal reform the discussion also highlights approaches that are more applicable to these emerging contexts, in terms of both policy relevance and critical research design.

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