Theorising the urban dimension of economic crisis: global concepts, local experiences and experimental methods

Authors: Alvaro Sanchez Jimenez*,
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: comparative urbanism, economic crisis, local actors, crisis narratives, institutional change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Balcony A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper, I explore the potential for a critical, comparative perspective to enrich the notion of “crisis” by exploring the multiple actors and institutions involved in the articulation of local responses to wider economic uncertainty. I bring together the experiences of Valencia (Spain) and Mar del Plata (Argentina) following two of the most significant episodes of economic downturn in recent history. In urban studies much of the research on the succession of financial and debt crises experienced across North America and Europe over the past decade (2008-2018) has simply assumed the core concept of “crisis” which has remained unexplored, and analyses have developed in isolation of the much more intense and enduring “crises” experienced in other parts of the world. This paper presents a detailed consideration of local actors, their narratives and the institutional changes that have shaped localized responses to crises in these two urban contexts. It argues that crises have a highly variable form and meaning, articulated through local pathways and institutional dynamics. The comparative analysis of the two cities thus sheds light on the tension between the particular features and outcomes of a crisis and the universal conceptualisations of crisis reflected in extant literature. The paper therefore suggests how a comparative strategy might contribute to ongoing calls for the reconfiguration of both theory and methods that are suitable to study contemporary global urban issues, including benefitting from considering key concepts and processes across a putative “North-South” divide.

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