Reevaluating the analytical power of regime theory

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How is urban space produced? Planners, politicians, building companies, real estate owners, investors, entrepreneurs and citizens are all entangled in the process, but the challenge is how to describe this complex, multi-actor process? Urban politics is a spatially and temporally bound process between the actors involved. There is no single institution or actor which explains the local political process; rather, there are several, dissonant actors cooperating on emerging agendas. The construction of power between them depends on the agenda, the composition of actors and their relations. To understand these intricate courses of action, I suggest the application of a case-sensitive urban regime analysis. Whilst regime theory is based on the context of North American cities in the 1980s and 1990s, it still offers an insightful analytical tool to investigate urban politics. Urban regime theory enables the examination of politics from the inside, rather than outside, similar to urban governance theory. Although urban regime theory has been accused of ethnocentrism, I believe it is suitable for research in European or even Nordic cities if one is sensitive to the legal, economic and political differences amongst different countries. I will illustrate this by presenting a case study I have conducted in Finland the city of Lahti. My aim has been to re-evaluate the analytical explanation power of regime theory in today´s Nordic city. Keywords: urban regime theory, city center, urban renewal
Book of proceedings: 29th Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015, Vol. 29, No. 2
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