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Governing through design: the politics of participation in neoliberal cities

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>6/10/2022
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)1-16
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date6/10/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article critically analyses an empirical case of how design mediates governing power in situated contexts. Using the Foucauldian concept of governmentality, the article examines the specific role of co-design to enable governance through the strate- gic use of design techniques and artefacts. Drawing on ethno- graphic research undertaken during the participatory urban redevelopment of Waterloo, Sydney, the article unpacks four con- crete mechanism of governance through design: (1) the building of a seemingly coherent, stable and shared visions of Waterloo’s future; (2) the regulation of local knowledge production and poli- tical imagination; (3) the rendering of community technical through calculation techniques, standardisation, and the objectification of subjects; (4) the performance of diversity of choice while smoothing out differences. In conclusion, the article argues that, in Waterloo, the shift from top-down modes of urban governance to decentra- lised multi-stakeholders did not imply the reduction of state power but only supposed the rearrangement of governing power in the face of neoliberal urbanism.