Working the urban assemblage: a transnational study of transforming practices

Catherine Durose, Mark van Ostaijen, M. Van Hulst, O. Escobar, A. Agger

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This article places those working for change in urban neighbourhoods at the centre of debates on urban transformation, directing attention to the importance of human agency in the work of assembling urban transformation. Drawing on cross-national qualitative fieldwork undertaken over 30 months shadowing 40 urban practitioners in neighbourhoods across four European cities – Amsterdam, Birmingham, Copenhagen and Glasgow – our research revealed the catalytic, embodied roles of situated agents in this assembling. Through exemplar vignettes, we present practices in a diverse range of socio-material assemblages aimed to address complex problems and unmet needs in the urban environment. The practices we studied were not those of daily routines, but were instead a purposeful assembling that included nurturing and developing of heterogeneous resources such as relationships, knowledges and materials, framed through an emerging vision to inform, mobilise and channel action. This article brings together assemblage-theoretical and practice-theoretical ideas, with rich empirical insight to advance our understanding of how the city may be re-made.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalUrban Studies
Early online date28 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research underpinning this article was supported by the ERA-NET Cofund Smart Urban Futures programme award, ‘Smart Urban Intermediaries: Trans-European Research, Learning, and Action’ (438-16-405). National funders were NWO (the Netherlands), IFD (Denmark) and ESRC (UK).

Publisher Copyright:
© Urban Studies Journal Limited 2021.


  • assemblage
  • community
  • governance
  • networks
  • politics
  • practice theory
  • 整合
  • 社区
  • 治理
  • 网络
  • 政治
  • 实践理论


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