Dilemmas of urban network democracy. Functional networks, political equality and local elites in a comparative perspective

Time period: 2008-01-01 to 2009-12-31

Project leader: Clarissa Kugelberg

Other personnel: Marianne Danielsson, Nils Hertting

Funder: Formas

Type of award: Unclassified

Total fundning: 246 000 SEK

One reoccurring idea in debates on public policy is that governing has become a more complex task, demanding broad mobilization of resources and competence. When single authorities and hierarchical decision-making fail, solutions are sought for across formal divisions of authority, across organizations and sectors in the public sphere, and often in cooperation with private actors. Such “functional networks”, however, are not easily reconciled with representative democracy. The aim of the present proposed pre-research project is to develop an application for a transnational full research project about urban functional networks, in which citizens participate together with public officials and other local actors to tackle integration and environmental issues – that is, aspects of social and ecological sustainability. We assume that the emergence, meanings and purposes of functional networks will show differences related to variations in political traditions and institutional and administrative structures. A comparative approach will enable a more systematic overview and analysis of the political conditions and democratic consequences of functional networks in contemporary urban politics. What meanings, purposes and strategies are attached to such urban initiatives and projects, and how are they related to variations in specific national and local political and administrative traditions and structures?