chapter  2
18 Pages

Urban neoliberalism, urban insecurity and urban violence: exploring the gender dimensions


An increasing number of scholars have begun to examine the impact of neoliberal restructuring on urban lives and livelihoods. These studies have drawn attention to a wide range of transformations that have included new forms of inter-urban competition, changing scales of governance, changing ways of regulating labour, and the restructuring of state functions, including, crucially, the state’s role in social reproduction. Thus, topics such as gentrification, the flexibilisation of labour, and new forms of governance are at the forefront of the literature on urban neoliberalism. The scholarship also addresses new and exacerbated forms of insecurity produced under the conditions of austerity and ideologies of self-sufficiency associated with neoliberalism, as well as the implicitly and explicitly violent processes engaged in by an array of state and non-state actors in this context. Despite this literature’s wide scope, there remain some problematic tendencies within this scholarship. These include disproportionate attention to places and cases from the global north, and a predominant focus on spaces created through restructuring that are directly connected to processes of economic production. Quite critically, there has been a lack of dialogue across and between literatures from the north and south. As such, we know little about the similarities and differences in the ways that neoliberal discourses, practices and policies have transformed lives and livelihoods in the majority of urban areas in the world, and even less about the specific transformations that these market-driven forms of governance have had on groups located within matrices of oppression differentiated by gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality or religion. As Peake and Rieker (this volume) note, feminist urban studies must work to undercut the “current binary framing studies” of the urban global south and north, thereby unsettling the latter as the only site of modernity.