Urban Power and Political Agency: Reflections on a Study of Local Economic Development in Johannesburg and Leeds
“Does politics matter” is an enduring question in urban studies. This paper contributes to the debate by exploring the agency of city leaders in local economic development policy in Johannesburg (South Africa) and Leeds (UK). In place of the conventional (though valid) focus on structural constraint under neoliberalism, we show how decisions by leaders ostensibly committed to social inclusion contributed to outcomes aggravating social exclusion. Whatever structural constraints pertain, the failures of local economic development must be attributed, in part, to decisions made and actions taken in response to acknowledged policy dilemmas. An agency-centred perspective poses important questions about the potential for city government to pursue progressive and inclusionary policies.
Citation : Davies, J. S. and Msengana-Ndlela, L. (2014) Urban Power and Political Agency: Reflections on a Study of Local Economic Development in Johannesburg and Leeds. Cities: The International Journal of Urban Politics and Planning. 44, pp. 131-138
Peer Reviewed : Yes