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Closing the gates on democracy? Private urban governance & its socio-political consequenses om suburban Buenos Aires

Rohrbach, Katja (2012) Closing the gates on democracy? Private urban governance & its socio-political consequenses om suburban Buenos Aires. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The underlying argument within this thesis is that cities are a reflection of transformations in society which manifest themselves in spatial structures and these spatial configurations vice versa influence society. The enclosure of residential neighbourhoods is accordingly understood as a spatial expression of social processes, which itself influences society and urban civic processes. This empirical research investigates social contacts, political engagement and civic concerns and links these processes to the following urban forms of residence: high income closed neighbourhoods; high income open neighbourhoods; middle income open neighbourhoods and low income open neighbourhoods, all situated within the suburban municipality of San Isidro/Buenos Aires. The criteria of analysis were residents’ social contacts, their social and political engagement, their opinions about local government and local politics, and their values given to the public realm, collective goods and other issues of common interest. This thesis mainly draws on two areas of literature: Firstly, interdisciplinary literature about gated communities and focusing on their implications for society, including social, legal, political and institutional perspectives. Secondly, literature from within sociology, social psychology and political theory, which comprise debates about the consequences of the privatisation of public space; contact and conflict and its impact on civic concerns; and the implications of the spread of private urban governance. The core argument is that as civic concerns are influenced by lived experiences with others, the urban forms people inhabit have social and political implications for society. The main finding of this research is that private urban governance in the form of closed neighbourhoods, significantly impacts residents' relationships with their municipal administration and residents' opinions about local government and local politics. An increase in gated communities will thus, in the long run, have substantial consequences for urban civic processes and urban democracy more broadly.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2010 Katja Rohrbach
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Kumar, Sunil

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