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By Mark Purcell

Recapturing Democracy is a brief but synoptic advent to city democracy in our period of political neoliberalism and financial globalization. Combining an unique argument with a few case reviews, Mark Purcell explores the situation of democracy in modern Western towns. while many students specialise in what Purcell calls "procedural democracy" – i.e., electoral politics and entry to it – he as a substitute assesses "substantive democracy." by way of this he potential the people’s skill to have a few say over problems with social justice, fabric health, and financial equality. Neoliberalism, which advocates a lowered function for the nation and extending strength for cellular capital, has reduced considerable democracy in recent years, he argues. He appears at case stories the place this has happened and at others that convey how neoliberalism might be resisted within the identify of important democracy. eventually, he makes use of Henri Lefebvre’s concept of "the correct to the city," which encompasses substantial in addition to procedural democracy for usual city electorate.

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Extra resources for Recapturing Democracy: Neoliberalization and the Struggle for Alternative Urban Futures

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Clean Air Act that impose “external” restrictions on economic decisions, or the Endangered Species Act that often limit what a property owner can do with his or her land. Government regulations that codify collective bargaining and other workplace rights (National Labor Relations Act), or promote safe working conditions (Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)) are undermined, empowering capital at the expense of labor. Similarly under attack are programs like unemployment insurance, since these “distort” the labor market because they mitigate the true cost of being fired and therefore make it harder for capital to discipline labor.

Neoliberals counterpose their values of “individualism, freedom, and liberty” with “the stifling bureaucratic ineptitude of the state apparatus” (Harvey 2005, pp. 56–7). The neoliberal tendency toward state retrenchment and devolution, in this light, is sold as a democratization of decision-making (Mayer 2007). The old national-scale Keynesian policymaking, neoliberals claim, was a top-down imposition on local places of the theories of far-away bureaucrats. Restricting that activist state or at least devolving its authority to the local scale allows places more power to shape decisions to their particular context (this claim is chronicled by Swyngedouw et al.

Cities cannot afford to preserve democratic public spaces for citizens (plazas, parks, squares) when they can develop privatized, revenue-producing spaces for “idiots” (malls, offices, condominiums). They cannot spend their meager revenue on services for disadvantaged neighborhoods because that promises little short-term return to the local economy. Affordable housing regularly loses out to gentrification (Smith 1996). And so no matter how cities The “Terror” of Neoliberalization • 27 organize their decision-making structure, and no matter who is making the decisions, the disciplinary structures of neoliberalism ensure (or make it seem, at least) that cities don’t have much choice in making public policy.

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