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Urban commons and the local state: co-production between enhancement and co-optation

Title of the magazine or publication: 
Territory, Politics



  • Iolanda Bianchi (IGOP – UAB)
  • Marina Pera (IGOP – UAB)
  • Laura Calvet Mir (Institut Metròpoli)
  • Sergio Villamayor (ICTA – UAB)
  • Mara Ferreri (Universidad Politècnica de Torí)
  • Núria Reguero (IGOP – UAB)
  • Sara Maestre Andrés (ICTA – UAB)

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Urban commons have emerged within the latest mobilization cycle, and have developed forms of everyday politics. Marxist and social movement scholars tend to see the urban commons/local state interactions that assemble commons’ material infrastructure as the prelude to commons being co-opted. Governance scholars uphold that these interactions can bring political benefits to the commons. By bridging these two perspectives, this article analyses urban commons/local state interactions that develop in the context of material-assembling practices in the light of what we call ‘commons-led co-production’: processes where commons gain political advantages from this co-production. By studying commons initiatives in two neighbourhoods in two different municipalities in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona, we analyse and discuss a spectrum of five positions. We contend that material-assembling practices act as a condition of possibility for developing the everyday politics of the commons, where commons-led co-production can be laid out, in context-specific and variegated ways. However, the arrangement of commons-led co-production does not necessarily guarantee the long-term enhancement of commons’ political action. We conclude by calling for a more nuanced understanding of urban commons/local state interactions within material-assembling practices, one that considers both co-optation and enhancement as possible long-term outcomes of these interactions.

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