It is generally assumed that the so-called populist explosion that has swept across liberal democracies since 2016 has led to a crisis of neoliberal reason in its original formulation. Owing to the close relationship between cities and neoliberalism, the crisis of neoliberal rationality has significantly impacted what is defined here ‘Western urbanology’. This definition brings together influential apologists of the urban age and its entrepreneurialist potential, starting with Richard Florida and Edward Glaeser. In recent times, these authors have started revisiting their conceptions and related policy proposals, in response to the growing sense of dissatisfaction with mainstream theorisations of economic development that has been associated with the populist explosion of 2016. However, this article shows how their revisions are minimal, and fundamentally illusory, as these authors have glossed over the very foundations of capitalist societies, drawing a veil over the issue of economic-value creation within contemporary platform urbanism. After having critically assessed the trajectory of Western urbanology, the article concludes by arguing that a substantial revision of the role of contemporary urbanism in economic development processes would require interrogating the creation and capture of economic value in today’s capitalist societies.

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Rossi U. (2020)

Fake friends: The illusionist revision of Western urbanology at the time of platform capitalism

Urban Studies, 57(5): 1105-1117