2004 volume 36(6) pages 1019 – 1043

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McGuirk P M, 2004, "State, strategy, and scale in the competitive city: a neo-Gramscian analysis of the governance of 'global Sydney'" Environment and Planning A 36(6) 1019 – 1043

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State, strategy, and scale in the competitive city: a neo-Gramscian analysis of the governance of 'global Sydney'

Pauline M McGuirk

Received 14 June 2003; in revised form 30 September 2003

Abstract. In this paper I argue that a neo-Gramscian strategic relational approach (SRA) offers the relational and constructivist perspectives necessary to enhance our concrete and theoretical understandings of urban governance. Moreover, I argue for the utility of using discourse as a productive entry point for neo-Gramscian analysis. Taking a discursive approach to a case study of the governance of 'global Sydney' since the mid-1990s, I explore how engaging a neo-Gramscian SRA can connect theoretically informed explanation of the practical accomplishment of urban governance to its broader politico-economic embeddedness and to the territoriality of the state. I explore how the activation of Sydney's governance via the hegemonic project of producing the 'competitive city' is shaping a contingent and scaled state form -- with a specific (and scaled) institutional form, regime of representation, and range of interventions. Additionally, I consider how counterhegemonic claims and currents shape this process. The relational and constructivist perspectives of the neo-Gramscian SRA ensure that, at all times, urban governance is understood both as a multiscalar production and as a political construction. The result of neo-Gramscian analysis, then, is more theoretically informed and theoretically informative studies of the situated practice of urban governance.

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