Spatial Democracy, a Capability Approach towards Commensurability

Metropolitanization, through the upscaling of urban systems and lifestyles, changes the political patterns of urban areas. Many models of governance have been proposed both to improve the quality and optimize efficiency of urban policies. However surveys suggest that for the public, what is highly important is democratic appreciation. Those models cannot be differentiated in regards to user satisfaction with the service. We have numerous theories of democracy that are irreconcilable. The individual "in concreto" evaluations of the democratic character of a governance model and its policies are also heterogeneous. We however need to account for that diversity if we are to understand how a governance model is evaluated as democratic. Amartya Sen has proposed the concept of capability as a mean to move from a formal conception of rights and status towards a pragmatic analysis of what individuals are actually able to do. After the spatial turn, identified by Edward Soja, space has acquired the character of a social dimension on its own. Geographers such as Jacques Lévy and Michel Lussault have defined sets of concepts to work with it. Democracy theories involve inexplicit spatial capabilities, actions that individuals with their competences and appropriation strategies are actually able to engage with in a specific spatial context. I will examine in this paper how we can identify these capabilities and investigates how and under which conditions they give us a valid tool to commensurate democracy theories that would otherwise stay incomparable.

Presented at:
Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers, Los Angeles, California, USA, April 13, 2013

 Record created 2013-04-22, last modified 2018-09-13

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