2012 volume 44(1) pages 42 – 51
doi:10.1068/a44178

Cite as:
McCann E, Ward K, 2012, "Assembling urbanism: following policies and ‘studying through’ the sites and situations of policy making" Environment and Planning A 44(1) 42 – 51

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Assembling urbanism: following policies and ‘studying through’ the sites and situations of policy making

Eugene McCann, Kevin Ward

Received 4 April 2011; in revised form 27 September 2011

Abstract. Recent years have seen a challenge to the territorial orthodoxy in urban studies. An interest in policy assemblage, mobility, and mutation has begun to open up ‘the what’ and ‘the where’ of urban policy making. Unfortunately—but perhaps not surprisingly—theoretical developments and empirical insights have run ahead of significant methodological considerations. This paper turns to some of the methodological consequences of studying the chains, circuits, networks, and webs in and through which policy and its associated discourses and ideologies are made mobile and mutable. It focuses on three rubrics under which methodological decisions can be made: ‘studying through’ (rather than studying up or down), techniques of following actors, policies, etc, and relational situations in which mobilization and assemblage happen. The paper concludes with a brief reflection on how academic research design and writing assemble cities and urban policy making in ways that parallel the assembling practices of policy actors. Keywords: policy mobilities, methodologies, assemblage

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