Against and beyond the crisis: The role of urban social movement

In this paper, Margit Mayer provides critical and theoretical reflections on “cities for people”, neoliberalism, and social movements, in the context of the current crisis. In contrast to the more monolithic and homogeneous conception of the world-wide neoliberalism, and, also, in contrast to poststructuralist positions, which have emphasized on the unique particularities of specific neoliberal formations, the author prefers to speak of neoliberalization instead of neoliberalism as an open-ended process of market-oriented regulatory restructuring. Following the conceptualization suggested by Jamie Peck, Neil Brenner, and Nik Theodore, she distinguishes between neoliberal ideology and practice, since neoliberal ideology aspires to a utopia of free markets, but in practice the neoliberal project has entailed the intensification of state intervention in order to manage the consequences and contradictions of such marketization. The contradictions of these neoliberalization processes of the urban space are mirrored in the arena of social movements. Thus, the field of struggle, even if it is enormously heterogeneous and fragmented in terms of locality and context-specificity, is important to move towards a more networked, and transnationally orchestrated formation which will be able eventually to dismantle the neoliberal rule regime.

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