Place Branding And Its Discontents: The Politics and Management of Neighborhood Governance Systems

Authors: Brady Collins*, Cal Poly Pomona
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Land Use, Political Geography
Keywords: place branding, neighborhood governance
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since the 1990s, urban planners in the United States have developed systems of neighborhood governance as a way to better involve citizens in decision-making. Simultaneously, place branding emerged as an economic development strategy employed by local, municipal, and regional organizations. While often discussed as an elite-controlled game, little attention has been paid to the role of residents in branding their own communities. This study investigates the extent to which different neighborhood governance systems encourage neighborhood branding. Through qualitative analysis of 35 neighborhood governance systems, I find that US cities manage neighborhood governance systems along a spectrum with varying levels of policy formality, regulation, and oversight. Cities with more formalized systems are the most supportive of neighborhood branding activities, yet pose equity issues that may exacerbate local power dynamics.

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