Wednesday, February 18, 2015

From our January 2015 issue: Regime Politics in Geography

  1. Katherine B. Hankins1
  1. 1Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA
  1. Katherine B. Hankins, Department of Geosciences, Georgia State University, P.O. Box 3965, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA. Email:


At the current conjuncture of neoliberal urbanism, when more than 20 years have passed since scholars identified the retrenchment of the federal state from urban affairs and the shift from urban government to urban governance, those of us engaged in questions of urban politics have much yet to learn about the power relations in American cities. At the same time, we must recognize those key concepts and frameworks that have shaped our ability to understand both the processes involved in urban politics and the expressions of those processes, as they are manifest in concrete places and often, literally, in places made of concrete. The urban regime, as explained by Clarence Stone a quarter century ago in Regime Politics, is one such concept, as illustrated in a very compelling empirical investigation, that has shaped the lexicon of how we understand cities. Stone’s contribution came along at a time when geographers were grappling with understanding the local and the global and their relationship to capitalism. Geographers engaged regime theory in fits and starts with other conceptual innovations in the field, including the regulation approach, flat ontologies, and relational sense of place. If we apply these three conceptual innovations to the regime approach, as I argue we should, then we get a much more robust conceptual tool to understand the contemporary urban political landscape.

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