Private ordering of public processes: How contracts structure participatory processes in urban development in Amsterdam and Hamburg

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3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The use of contracts to achieve public goals has been gaining traction since the 1980s. In this article, I investigate the implications of the increased use of private law instruments for participatory democracy. This study starts with problematising the notion of contracts and proposes a conceptual model to study contractual relations in participatory processes. Next, through a detailed description of two case studies in Amsterdam and Hamburg, I show the consequences of contractual governance for participatory democracy in urban development. Namely, the interests of commercial parties and government agencies are incorporated in contracts, whereas the interests of residents are incorporated in non-legal agreements. This has four implications for our understanding of participatory democracy and urban politics. First, the arena of public decision making has shifted from public meetings to contractual negotiations. Second, contracts are not set in stone. Mobilisation by residents can influence, adjust and politicise agreements. However, third, residents need to be able to mobilise and negotiate. This creates new boundaries between residents who are able to make deals and those who are excluded. Lastly, investigating how contracts transform urban politics should take a broad view on how contractual relations are formed and focus on both non-legal and contractual agreements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalUrban Studies
Early online date24 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • community
  • contracts
  • development
  • governance
  • participation
  • planning
  • politics

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