Tracing Policy Immobilities through A Posteriori Comparisons: What ‘Best Practices’ Leave Behind

Authors: Sergio Montero*, Universidad De Los Andes, Gianpaolo Baiocchi, New York University
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Comparative Methods, Policy Mobilities, Urban Policy, Best Practices
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Balcony A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Scholars have taken note of the growing importance of ‘best practices’ in development, urban policy and related fields, and have put them to critical scrutiny. In this article we discuss ‘best practices’ from a different angle: the way that, in becoming a ‘best practice,’ parts of a policy do not travel. This optic of policy immobilities implies a sustained attention on the parts of circulating policy models that do not move. To do so we compare two best practices that have emerged in Latin America in recent years and that have been widely replicated around the world: Bogotá as a sustainable urban transport model and Porto Alegre as a model of local participatory budgeting. While traditional formal comparisons in urban studies have sought to find variation among similar cases selected a priori, in this article we selected our cases a posteriori, that is, after both authors realized about surprising similarities in the ways in which these cities were constructed and circulated worldwide. The analysis shows the tensions between the institutional immobilities and simplified mobilities that have characterized the making of Bogotá and Porto Alegre as world policy models. It also shows the potential of a posteriori comparisons to analyze contemporary global urban dynamics and, more specifically, to better understand the increasing circulations of urban policy models and ‘best practices’ as well as the important immobilities that these global circulations often leave behind.

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