The 2008–2009 Global Economic Crisis (GEC) created an opportunity, eagerly seized by many national governments and international organizations, to impose a prolonged, and widespread period of austerity. Austerity is widely recognized to have done enormous damage to social, cultural, political and economic infrastructures in cities and larger urban areas across the globe (Davies, 2021). As the GEC was also the first such crisis in what is widely considered ‘the urban age’ (Brenner and Schmid, 2015), (COVID-19 merely the latest and most intense), austerity measures were chiefly administered through municipal and regional mechanisms. A great deal has been written since the crisis, about the way austerity was experienced, governed, resisted and urbanized. This volume considers these issues anew, by reflecting on the multi-faceted and shape-shifting concept of ‘collaboration’. It draws from research funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council titled Collaborative Governance Under Austerity: An Eight Case Comparative Study, led by the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity at De Montfort University in the UK City of Leicester.1 Research was conducted over three years (2015–2018) in the European cities of Athens, Barcelona, Dublin, Leicester and Nantes, North American cities of Baltimore and Montréal, and the Australian City of Greater Dandenong, part of the Greater Melbourne metropolis.
Our objective in this volume is to reflect on the theme of collaborative governance, considering this from the perspective of resisting austerity, or otherwise finding ways to circumvent or move beyond it. As a research team, we have a range of political views, but all share egalitarian sympathies articulated in the following chapters.
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