Culture-led urban regeneration: the discursive politics of institutional change
Urban policy makers have in recent years sought to use culture-led regeneration to design collective visions of urban futures. In doing so, they compete for external investment and political support of voters, civil society and interest groups. Critically elaborating the political economic approaches to urban regeneration, this chapter traces the various interpretations and interactions through which actors and institutions legitimate and renegotiate the issues motivating policy decisions in the local context. Discourse analysis is used to examine the Museumsquartier Vienna and the planned Humboldt Forum on Berlin’s Schlossplatz, two of the most controversial sites of urban regeneration in Europe. So how can culture assist urban leaders to redefine legitimacy and govern institutional change? The lessons from these old European capitals facing diverse pressures of state-transformation serve to elucidate culture-led urban regeneration as an open-ended and local political process of institutional change. Contrary to public choice and critical approaches of urban political economy, argumentative policy analysis conceives discourse as a source of political agency and legitimacy that can reconstruct power structures. The chapter concludes by discussing the potential contribution of discourse analysis to ‘the cultural turn’ in urban political economy as a field of regeneration research and practice.