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Book Sections Year : 2018

Voracious cities and obstructing states?

Gilles Pinson


The pro-urban literature reverses the famous proposition made by C. Tilly and W. Blockmans about 'voracious states' and 'obstructing cities'. However, the theoretical stream that provided the most systematic formulation of the 'city-actor' hypothesis is probably the one that could be described as 'Neo-Weberian'. The 'city-actor' hypothesis has raised criticism, both in its Neo-Weberian formulation as well as the urban political economy version. The criticism targets the tendency of the city-actor hypothesis's proponents to picture cities as individuals endowed with will and interests and able to express and defend them. Thus, the emergence of the city-actor does not proceed from a simple 'rescaling' of statehood, more or less orchestrated by a ruse of capitalism or by neo-liberal reforms. The counter-critique on the issue of anthropomorphism is probably the most established one and invites us to keep away from mechanistic, unanimist, depoliticized and 'actor-less' visions conveyed by urban policymakers' narratives when presenting one city's aim, projects, strategies and so forth.
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halshs-01958821 , version 1 (18-12-2018)



Gilles Pinson. Voracious cities and obstructing states?. Stijn Oosterlynck; Luce Beeckmans; David Bassens; Ben Derudder; Barbara Segaert (eds.). The city as a global political actor, Routledge, pp.60-85, 2018, Routledge studies in urbanism and the city, 978-1-138-57357-4. ⟨10.4324/9780203701508-4⟩. ⟨halshs-01958821⟩
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