Urbanity, Lifestyle and Making Sense of the New Urban Cultural Economy: Notes from Auckland, New Zealand.
Urban Studies, 40, (9), . (doi:10.1080/0042098032000106564).
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Contemporary urban theory is marked by a division. Urban policy practitioners, planners, architects and town hall administrators have over the past two decades rediscovered an enthusiasm and belief in urban life--as indeed have significant numbers of ordinary citizens. It might have been expected that urban critics from the left would be enthusiastic about this rediscovered urbanity. In fact, the much-vaunted urban renaissance has been robustly criticised by academic urbanists, particularly by those working from within a political economy framework, as little more than élite propaganda. Rather than being defined by a renaissance, the contemporary urban landscape is almost uniquely riven by social divisions. In many ways, the critique offered by academic urbanists is powerful and convincing. But this paper argues that the academic--or urban political economy--critique of the contemporary urban condition comes at too high a price. Recognising the pervasiveness of many of the more destructive trends highlighted by the urban political economists, there is also a need to engage more positively with the broader contemporary enthusiasm for the city. Through a case study of a site in Auckland, New Zealand, the paper seeks to demonstrate how thinking carefully about both the context and the emergence of particular kinds of spaces and types of social practices associated with specific instances of urban change, can help us engage more productively with the current resurgence of interest in urban culture and cities.
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