Cities, Space, Surplus
Democracy + Public Space
The Public School New York
April 19, 2010
• Ideological - a set of ideas about the “best”
relationship between the economy and government.
• Political - social and economic reforms that put the
ideas of neoliberalism into practice.
• Historical - an era characterized by the dominance of
neoliberal political projects (roll-back and roll-out).
• The economy will prosper if left alone, and a
prosperous economy is good for the people.
• Individuals bear responsibility for their poverty,
and governments should not foster
“dependence” on social programs.
• Economic rationales should be applied to social
programs: competition, cost-beneﬁts analysis,
What Does Neoliberalism Look Like?
• Free market policies
• In “developing” world (aka former colonies of
US and European empires): structural
adjustment programs that cut social spending
• In US: shift of industrial production out of US,
and growth of domestic service and knowledge
• Increasing economic polarization
• Growth of surplus populations
• Expansion of “security” industries - police,
prisons, military occupation
• Expanding power of supranational governance
What Does Neoliberalism Look Like
in the City?
• Selling off of public space to private
• Dominance of consumerism
• “Quality of life” crackdowns
• More cops, and more militarized policing
• Growth of private security forces in quasi-
• Growth of non-proﬁt sector
• Intensiﬁcation of racialized economic
exploitation and racial wealth gap
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