Fast activism: How urban social movements contest fast policy regimes

Authors: John Lauermann*, City University of New York, Anne Vogelpohl, University of Hamburg
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Political Geography
Keywords: policy mobilities, social movements, entrepreneurial city, mega-events
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Galerie 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

‘Fast’ urban policy is increasingly common as city leaders draw on globally mobile policy models to accelerate the policymaking process. We argue that urban social movements have responded with new ‘fast activism’ strategies. Such strategies include planning temporary and strategically timed campaigns, using local messaging that jumps between global and local political critiques, and organizing ideologically diverse coalitions to mobilize against policy proposals. This was observed in urban protest campaigns against Olympic bids in Boston (USA) and Hamburg (Germany). Protesters successfully opposed the bids in each city, joining a growing cohort of European and North American anti-Olympic activists who adopt fast activism strategies. The paper presents a comparative study of the Boston and Hamburg protests, drawing from qualitative fieldwork on the campaigns in both cities. The paper contributes by conceptualising fast activism as an emerging mode of urban social movement, and by evaluating how this type of protest changes local receptions of fast and mobile urban policy. We show how activists seek to contest the role of experts in urban governments by challenging the authority of extra-urban policy expertise, and analyse the scope and limits of fast activism strategies for other urban social movements.

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