Participation and urban policy-making in a network society – a theoretical outline on new urban governance

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Gudrun Haindlmaier


Society takes place in cities and shapes them. The “city” is commonly attributed with certain objectified qualities, daily practices, perceptions and symbolic readings and is strongly linked to institutional arrangements. As various transformation forces and processes can be observed in contemporary cities, the question arises: what instruments and possibilities can be identified for steering urban structures and development by means of urban policy? The current shift away from a top down oriented city administration and planning towards the participatory governance suggests that cities are facing new challenges and requirements that are closely associated with a political dimension. The possibilities of influencing and steering urban development by urban planning and policy and participation as one element of those control options will be discussed in this paper. In order to understand the role and scope of new urban governance the societal context that frames contemporary cities will be outlined. Starting from the characteristics of new urban governance modes it will be discussed why governance and participation can be understood as reaction to the network society and its challenges of the established nation-state based democracy, traditional power relations and legitimation of political processes and institutions.


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Haindlmaier, G. (2016). Participation and urban policy-making in a network society – a theoretical outline on new urban governance. Filozofia Publiczna I Edukacja Demokratyczna, 5(2), 87-102.


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