Ross Beveridge and Philippe Koch, "How Cities Can Transform Democracy" (Polity Press, 2022)

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We live in an urban age. It is well-known that urbanization is changing landscapes, built environments, social infrastructures and everyday lives across the globe. But urbanization is also changing the ways we understand and practise politics. What implications does this have for democracy? This incisive book argues that urbanization undermines established certainties of nation-state politics and calls for a profound rethinking of democracy as a project. Ross Beveridge and Philippe Koch provide a novel way of seeing democracy like a city, shifting scholarly and activist perspectives from institutions to practices, from jurisdictional scales to spaces of collective urban life, and from fixed communities to emergent political subjects. Through a discussion of examples from around the world, the book shows that distinctly urban forms of collective self-rule are already apparent. The authors reclaim the ‘city’ as a democratic idea in a context of urbanization, seeing it as instrumental to re-locate democracy in the everyday lives of urbanites.

Original and hopeful, How Cities Can Transform Democracy (Polity Press, 2022) compels the reader to abandon conventional understandings of democracy and embrace new vocabularies and practices of democratic action in the struggles for our urban future.

Anna Zhelnina holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Helsinki. To learn more, visit or follow Anna on Twitter:

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