- Community Innovators - ‘Shock Troops‘ of the New Order or Safety Brake in the Era of ‘Fast Policy‘?    click here to open paper content198 kb
by    Pancewicz, Lukasz | lukaszpancewicz@gmail.com   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
With the 2008 crisis redefining the role of neoliberal 'fast polices' and real estate-based investment, community activism enjoys rising attention. The paper explores how 'bottom-up' activism relates to the concept of 'fast planning'.
In pre-2008 context, urban innovation was (and to some extent still is) institutionalized through processes that Jamie Peck calls a 'fast policy' transfer. In that sense local authorities, international experts and business community would act in concert in promoting policies aiming at rapid delivery of pro-market strategies. In the world of urban shock therapies innovation would be also associated with limited set of policy solutions, increased commodification of the urban space and flexible modes of accumulation often paired with significant urban infrastructural investment. Narratives of competition permeated the global circuit of metropolitan cities.
In the wake of 2008 financial crisis the concepts of viable FIRE (finance insurance real estate) economy was put into question throughout the Western world, bringing the issue of non-spatial economic strategies for the cities back into focus. Rising prominence of the 'Global Protester' in 2011 highlighted the potential of grass root, community innovation in socio-economic sense. Yet, community 'Do It Yourself' initiatives were traditionally seen as local and limited in ability to act on a strategic - national or urban - scale. As Manuel Castells points out the changing nature of community engagement occurs through new technologies - net activism, crowdsourcing, but also the crisis of the mainstream representative politics, tainted by inability to stem the crisis. Such change potentially opens up opportunities to upscale and act more strategically. Also the rising wave of bottom-up entrepreneurialism redefines the role of agency of community activism in 'fast moving' changes.
Despite the advances of bottom up activism the issue of efficacy and long term viability of these activities remains open. The State is still far from withering away and private market still holds and commands significant resources. With an increasing mobilization of community entrepreneurship the question is whether their activities provide opportunities for 'early starters' in the emerging niche urban markets, the new frontiers of capitalism (such as web-based startups or urban sustainability initiatives) or do they have more lasting potential to facilitate meaningful urban socio-economic change.
bottom up activism, social change, neoliberal urbanization, fast policy transfer
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