Governance and resistance in eight cities – Journal of Urban Affairs Urban Planning

Guest editor: Jonathan Davies

This problem arises from a cross-border study on how to manage urban austerity policies after the global financial crisis. The study was conducted between 2015 and 2018 in the eight cities of Athens (Greece), Baltimore, Barcelona, ​​Greater Dandenong (Melbourne), Dublin, Leicester, Montreal and Nantes. The edition includes eight case study-based articles and an introductory essay by Professor Nik Theodore that deals with urban austerity policies in the broader context of neoliberalism and neoliberalization worldwide.

The study, which was generously supported by the British Economic and Social Research Council, focused in particular on the policy of austerity measures and patterns of post-crisis collaborative or participatory governance. We both wanted to understand how cities govern austerity measures and to find more or less radical ways to defend themselves or to act against them. Research has three key messages, which are reflected in the JUA articles:

  1. Strict austerity measures corrode and undermine the potential for constructive relationships between the local state and civil society in a variety of ways, which are associated with increasing alienation, socio-spatial distancing, network damage, the hollowing out of local voluntary and municipal sectors and the erosion of participatory spaces.
  2. Austerity measures are very uneven – more than we expected. Cities that were able to maintain strong public and social services were better able to build and maintain participatory governance mechanisms than those that did not.
  3. Urban politics significantly changed the way cities were governed in the era of austerity measures. In particular, strong urban movements allied with local authorities can change political dialogue and create alternatives, regardless of hostile national governments and austerity measures.

Readers interested in further details are welcome to visit our website at to future comparative publications are published here. A stakeholder report is available in English, French, Greek and Spanish and can be downloaded from,

Table of Contents

1. Governing through austerity measures: (Il) logic of neoliberal urbanism after the global financial crisis, by Nik Theodore

Second City administration and political change under a radical left-wing government: the Barcelona caseby Ismael Blanco, Yunailis Salazar and Iolanda Bianchi

Third Savings control and divided civil society: The changing matrices of urban politics in Athensby Ioannis Chorianopoulos & Naya Tselepi

4th Why is austerity measures manageable? A Gramscian analysis of the urban regime in Leicester, UK, by Jonathan S. Davies. Adrian Bua. Mercè Cortina Oriol, & Ed Thompson

5th Savings course in Dublin: rationalization, resilience and resistanceby Niamh Gaynor

6th The logic and limits of “collaborative governance” in Nantes: myth, ideology and politics of new urban regimes, by Steven Griggs, David Howarth and Andrés Feandeiro

7th “La coopération, c’est clé”: Montreal’s urban governance in times of austerity, by Pierre Hamel & Roger Keil

8th. Variations on a common theme: conservatism, pluralism and location-based urban politics in Central Dandenong, Melbourne, by Hayley Henderson. Helen Sullivan, & Brendan Gleeson

9th Spark control in the boroughs of Baltimore: “The conversation may have changed, but the systems will not change.”, by Madeleine Pill

Professor Jonathan S. Davies is director of the Center for Austerity Research at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK.

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