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New norms and forms of urban governance under financialization

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: China Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group, Asian Geography Specialty Group
Organizers: Shenjing He, Fulong Wu
Chairs: Fulong Wu


Emerging as an evolving form of neoliberal capitalism that dominates in post-crisis capitalist economies, financialization has brought about profound influences in the restructuring of economies, states, cities, firms and households. In particular, financialization leaves remarkable imprints on the urban built environment, which has been widely examined by scholars in different contexts. Nonetheless, the changing dynamics of urban governance amidst the transition to a finance-dominated economy has not been sufficiently explored. From a regulationist point of view, the modes of regulation that are compatible with the prevailing accumulation regime are crucial in securing the economic base of the dominant mode of growth. With notable geographical variations, the new modes of regulation under financialization are generally characterized by a series of institutional restructuring and financial deregulation to conjure up a novel governance structure equipped with various financial tools, and turning local states into indebted investors deeply engaging with finance sector to sustain the circulation of capital in and out of the urban built environment. To a large extent, financialization have thoroughly revamped the conventional ways of city building and urban governance. Prevalent financial motives and practices have led to the production of new policy models and new norms of local governance, for instance, establishing local financing platforms in the forms of semi-public institutions and public-private-partnership of different sorts; replacing growth-machine politics with debt-machine dynamics; creating new institutions and patterns of governance, known as ‘flanking mechanism’ to extend financial logic and motive into new spheres of urban life. It is not uncommon that cities are packaged into quality financial assets to compete for investment from capital market for financing land (re)development and refinancing accumulated debts. Dominant local government agendas are restructured in favor of attracting financial capital and debt management over other constituents of the society. And the newly introduced financial rationale of risk pricing and credit rating channels the torrents of capital flows into cities of different ranks and place them into different positions of the financial ecology. Qualitatively different from the conventional entrepreneurial urban governance, these new dynamics of urban governance enables local governments augmenting their entrepreneurial ambition to engage in bolder and riskier entrepreneurial endeavours, generating new patterns of uneven development and giving rise to a new order of urban hierarchy. Thus far, these important new dimensions and dynamism of urban governance have not been thoroughly scrutinized, especially from a comparative perspective.

We hereto call for a concerted effort to bring the discussions and examinations in above-mentioned research area to the fore, and in particular, from non-western contexts and/or a comparative perspective. We invite papers on themes including but not limited to the following:

● Local governance and debt-machine politics
● Local financing platforms and public-private-partnership
● Mobility of financialized urban policies and governance
● Financialized ‘flanking mechanism’ in governing the city
● New urban hierarchy defined by the financial ecology


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Manuel Aalbers*, KU Leuven, Urban Financialization: Towards a Typology 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Jie Shen*, , Universities as financing vehicles of (sub)urbanization: the development of university towns in Shanghai 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Ines Grigorescu*, Institute of Geography, Romanian Academy, Gheorghe Kucsicsa, Institute of Geography, Romanian Academy, Bianca Mitrica, Institute of Geography, Romanian Academy, Elena-Ana Popovici, Institute of Geography, Romanian Academy, Irena Mocanu, Institute of Geography, Romanian Academy, Regional Future Trends in Urban Sprawl in Romania. An Assessment Based on a Spatially Explicit Scenario 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Congcong LI*, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Natacha Aveline , Centre national de la recherche scientifique, France, The political economy of Rail plus Property Development in China's urban speed machine 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Shenjing He*, The University of Hong Kong, Mengzhu Zhang, The University of Hong Kong, Zongcai Wei, South China University of Technology, The state project of crisis management: China’s Shantytown Redevelopment Schemes under state-led financialization 15 12:00 AM

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