Call for Papers: Urban Governance and Civil Society
Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester, 29/30 April 2015
This will be the third conference of the Urban Agency network, organized by the Centre for Urban History at the University of Antwerp and the Centre for Urban History at the University of Leicester.
The concept of civil society has become an essential heuristic tool in analyses of urban governance, particularly in the modern era. It has frequently been associated with the principles of self-governance and as an element in Foucauldian models of governmentality. However, the historical relationship between civil society and governance and their evolution in the urban context has been only patchily conceptualized and described. The structures of association characteristic of civil society that bind individuals together in horizontal ties, as opposed to the top down model of traditional power relations, allow a more complex, multi‐layered picture of the exercise and mediation of power in urban society to evolve in any period and not just the modern era. Civil society cannot be considered as something aboriginal which exists a priori or acts in opposition to state authority and hegemony. Indeed, the concept of civil society itself is predicated upon normative ideas of the conduct of politics and the virtuous individual which are historically contingent upon political and ideological contexts which themselves demand interrogation.