Urban Politics: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue


  • This multidisciplinary dialogue first came together at the 2010 Association of American Geographers Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Many thanks to all those who participated in the discussion on the day — it was a lively set of encounters. We also thank Yasminah Beebeejaun and Nicola Headlam for organizing the University of Manchester seminar where this dialogue first began, IJURR's Debates and Developments editor AbdouMaliq Simone for the way he oversaw the editorial process, and the useful comments of the two reviewers. It is dedicated to Fred Anderson (1929–2010), whose music was the backdrop to the putting together of this collection of papers. The usual disclaimers apply.

Kevin Ward (kevin.ward@manchester.ac.uk), School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK and

David Imbroscio (imbroscio@louisville.edu), Department of Political Science, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky 40292, USA, with

Deborah Martin (demartin@clarku.edu), School of Geography, Clark University, Worcester, MA 01610-1477, USA,

Clarence Stone (cnstone@gwu.edu), GW Institute of Public Policy, George Washington University, 2115 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA and

Robert Whelan (rkw091000@utdallas.edu), School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 West Campbell Road, Richardson, TX 75080-3021, USA,

Faranak Miraftab (faranak@illinois.edu), Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 611 Taft Drive, Champaign, IL 61820, USA, and

Allan Cochrane (a.d.cochrane@open.ac.uk), Faculty of Social Sciences, Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK.



Urban politics is a multidisciplinary field, in other words a number of bits — so to speak — of different disciplines work on it. While those in political science might claim to produce the bulk of the work in this field, others in anthropology, economics, human geography, planning, social policy and sociology can also claim to be making a contribution. The introduction situates the six sections comprising this essay, in which contributors discuss what their respective disciplines bring to the wider field of ‘urban politics’ and highlight some possible areas for future work.


La politique urbaine est un champ multidisciplinaire auquel contribuent, dirons-nous, des «bouts» de plusieurs disciplines. Ceux-ci relèvent en partie de la science politique, qui revendiquera éventuellement le gros du travail, mais d'autres peuvent se réclamer de l'anthropologie, de l'économie, de l'aménagement ou de l'urbanisme, de la géographie humaine, de la politique sociale et de la sociologie. L'introduction articule les six parties de cet essai dans lequel les intervenants analysent chacun l'apport de leur discipline respective dans le champ plus général de la ‘politique urbaine’, tout en dégageant plusieurs pistes possibles de recherches.