38 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2018
Date Written: October 1, 2017
The body of scientific knowledge focused on cities is extensive and rapidly expanding. Academic contributions identifying urban visions or urban paradigms are plural and diversified. There are three main paradigms which suggest the perspective from which the city should be studied and depict how the city would be conceptualized in the future. Some think that cities will leverage the power of knowledge as the key economic driver for urban development and envision the city as a marketplace. Others think that technology will be the main factor shaping the destiny of cities in the future and envision the city as a platform. Finally, the literature adopting a nature-based perspective envisions the city as an ecological system or environment. This Article argues that all three visions or paradigms lack a rights-based approach and therefore are not able to explain, nor govern, many of the social and economic phenomena generating conflicts at the local level. They, for instance, do not tackle the issue of divisions between cities and regions, urban and rural areas, nor do they make an attempt to face the questions raised by power asymmetries and wealth redistribution within a city. In order to overcome the shortcomings of the three main visions one needs to take into account a fourth vision developed by the "right to the city" literature and reconceive the city as a commons to implement that vision. This approach envisions the city as an infrastructure enabling city inhabitants' right to equal access to, management of, or even ownership of some urban essential resources and ultimately the city. This reconceptualization requires however embedding "urban pooling" as a design principle of a new economic, legal, and institutional framework for the city. It therefore implies the recognition of the right of multiple urban and local social actors, in particular city inhabitants, civil society organizations, and knowledge institutions like universities, to be part of partnerships with the public and the private sector to run or own urban assets or resources. The aim of urban pooling is to deploy cooperative actions, practices, institutions, and ventures to share existing urban resources, collaborate to generate new resources, and coordinate in using urban networks or producing public services. Urban pooling by mixing and matching urban resources dispersed across the city expands capacity of these resources and the city as whole. 6 Urban pooling blends individual or organizational capabilities and legal authorities that different urban actors hold and use in distinct and separate realms or ways. It combines expertise with local authority. It works across economic and institutional boundaries and thrives in interstices and voids in the delivery of services and access to essential urban resources.
Keywords: urban law, urban commons, governance of the commons, infrastructure, knowledge commons, local government, Ostrom, urban governance, collaborative governance, polycentric governance, horizontal subsidiarity, citizen engagement, citizen empowerment, sharing economy, collaborative economy
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