12 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2015 Last revised: 12 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 4, 2015
By raising money from a large number of people via the internet, crowdfunding offers the promise of a “democratization of finance”. Recently, the crowdfunding of large-scale urban projects appears to have gained traction as a handful of high-profile real estate and infrastructure projects are making headlines around the globe for relying on distributed-network online financing. Instead of their purported promise, this paper argues that large-scale efforts to crowdfund the urban fabric carry all the hallmarks of what Jane Jacobs termed “cataclysmic money”. As such, crowdfunding the city might simply represent the next phase of entrepreneurialism in the financial transformation of urban governance. The main thrust of the argument developed in this paper suggests that it is precisely because of such financialising potential – and the relational importance of money and finance in an urbanised society more generally – that crowd financing might undermine, rather than fortify, the “right to the city” in the sense of Lefebvre. Indeed, the detailed workings of the modern monetary-financial system – from the technical complexity of financial engineering to the institutional architecture of money and the political economy of its regulatory governance – are still insufficiently recognised in much of the public discourse on the social consequences of finance.
Keywords: Urban real estate, financial regulation, crowdfunding, monetary-financial system, financialisation
JEL Classification: R51, G18, G28, E42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
By Thomas Hazen