Triangulating a Global Form

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 30 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Judit BODNAR, Central European University, Hungary
Gated communities are everywhere: in civil-war-torn Iraq, in post-apartheid South Africa, postsocialist Budapest, in the peaceful US countryside, in places with soaring crime rates as well as in safe neighborhoods; in gentrifying transitory areas and traditionally bourgeois districts. They have become a veritable global form with a capacity to adjust to local conditions and display remarkable variations.

The research attempts to capture theoretically both the solidity and the variability of this global form in a three-city comparison of Chicago, Berlin and Budapest through a multilevel and multidimensional examination of public-private linkages. It treats the spread of gated communities as the outcome of the shared conditions of global neoliberal urbanism as well as of the mobility of neoliberal policies, ideas, images, tastes, and urban forms, negotiating thus the fine line between a macro-structural analysis and a more actor-oriented processual one. An ambition is to study connections and processes without retreating to a simple view of the diffusion outward of a new form from the US, which underline the prevalent Americanization argument in urban studies. Historical continuities, horizontal connections, Europeanization and east-west development-envy complicate the story.

This theoretical endeavor requires a layered comparative design: a combination of symmetrical comparative analysis (Skocpol and Somers), incorporated comparison (McMichael), the extended case method (Burawoy) and the morphological method (Ginzburg). The paper will discuss such maneuvering between cases, disciplines and strategies.