Contemporary Urban Commons. Rebuilding the Analytical Framework


Abstract


The article contributes to the understanding of contemporary urban commons by developing a renewed analytical framework which approaches them as dynamic configurations. By investigating different types of urban commons in Italy, the article disentangles the notion of urban commons along two axes that take into account their relationship with both local institutions and the surrounding environment. The combination of these two axes produces four possible configurations that allow to grasp the complexity of urban commons, accounting for their multifaceted and at times controversial nature. Moreover, this article identifies three functions that urban commons can perform in the contemporary European cities: as resilient spaces, as reclaimed spaces incorporated into capitalistic models of urban development, or contentious and transformative spaces that combine social reproduction with anti-capitalistic politics. The article is based on qualitative research and participant observation grounded on extensive fieldwork in various urban commons across Italy between 2016 and 2019.

Keywords: contemporary cities; contentious politics; institutionalization; urban commons; urban politics

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