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Extracting Value from the City: Neoliberalism and Urban Redevelopment

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How do states make the built environment more flexible and responsive to the investment criteria of real estate capital? Spatial policies, such as urban renewal funding for slum clearance or contemporary financial incentives, depend on discursive practices that stigmatize properties targeted for demolition and redevelopment. These policies and practices have become increasingly neoliberalized. They have further distanced themselves from those “long turnover” parts of the city where redevelopment needs are great but where the probability of private investment and value extraction is slight. They have become more entwined in global financial markets seeking short–term returns from subsidized property investments. They have shifted their emphasis from compromised use values (embodied in the paternalistic notion of “blight”) to diminished exchange values (embodied in the notion of “obsolescence”). I argue that obsolescence has become a neoliberal alibi for creative destruction and, therefore, an important component in contemporary processes of spatialized capital accumulation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Illinois at Chicago, US

Publication date: 2002-07-01

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