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Leveraging the city: urban governance in financial capitalism

Gupta, Priya S. (2020) Leveraging the city: urban governance in financial capitalism. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004411


The project examines the proliferation of high-rise luxury towers and real estate investment to understand the transformations of urban governance under financial capitalism. For both the city and finance, urban space is of central importance. For the city, it is the place of interactions, public life and culture, markets, corporate activities, and residential life. For finance, it is the site that makes for valuable real estate invested directly through specific projects and indirectly through financial instruments. Both luxury towers and real estate investment are crucial sites of financialization of urban space which reveal the accompanying transnational transformations of urban governance. The project makes three broad, interrelated claims. First, cities play a significant yet under-appreciated role in financial capitalism because of their power to regulate urban real estate. Second, the increasing integration of urban real estate into the global economy through financial instruments changes who is governing urban space and how it is being governed. Third, through the pursuit of urban space by the various actors acting in the interests of finance, the idea of the public itself is being re-imagined. In making those claims, it first provides a conceptual account of financialization and urban governance in relation to real estate and urban space. It then tells a story of the loosening of global capital controls and the institution of property regimes to protect foreign investors, how much of that investment has “landed” in cities and in real estate in particular, and how urban spaces around the world are being turned into instruments of financial speculation at the same time that individual and cultural subjectivities are shifting towards that of finance. It substantiates the connection between financial capitalism and real estate by exploring various mechanisms through which capital was channeled into international forms of investment and securitized financial instruments which relied on real estate for their underlying symbolic or actual assets. It examines the transformation of urban governance through two case studies: Newham, United Kingdom, and Gurgaon, India, each illustrating different instantiations of the encounter between financial capitalism and local government.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2020 Priya S. Gupta
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD100 Land Use
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Sets: Departments > Law
Supervisor: Humphreys, Stephen

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