Other Cities: Europe

Europe presents different constraints on our collecting efforts than do Asia, Latin America and Africa. First, we do have significant exposure there: Pierre Clavel made a series of research visits to Britain in the 1970s and taught in Italy in 1995 including visits to Bologna and other municipalities that had experimented with activist government under Communist party leadership that had been blocked from participation in national coalitions. Ken Reardon had made several visits to Italy and other European locales, and we established connections with Robert Kraushaar, whose dissertation on Britain’s 1970s community development programs led to further exposure to the U.K. radical municipalities like Sheffield and the Greater London Council in the early 1980s. These British and Italian cases in particular provide a rich complement to our U.S. research, and we have taken recent steps to add to the collection for these places.

Cases.The best known 1970s case in the world was Bologna. Red Bologna (1977) was a leading book to read during the first flush of the “progressive city” in the 1970s, but Italy had dozens of cities with similar policies by the 1980s. For an extended presentation on Bologna, see the Cambridge University dissertation by Simon Frank Parker, Local Government and Social Movements in Bologna Since 1945 (1992). More recently, a set of cities across the southern belt of Europe – Spain, Italy, Greece – adopted Participatory Budgeting following the example set by Porto Alegre in the 1990s. Seville and Cordoba in Spain were examples. Other European cases remain to be discovered, at least by ourselves. Trondheim was a Norwegian example, the subject of a well executed case study by Einar Braathen. [1]

There were remarkable initiatives across England in the 1980s, when community development activists and politicians won office in London, Sheffield and several other cities in the wake of Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 victory in national politics. [2]     Seeing a spate of monetarist budget cutting, these activists determined to redefine local government not only by providing services designed to stimulate popular participation and new business initiatives, but also to maintain and energize popular movements for inclusion – e.g. by women and gays; and to redefine the limits of public intervention into the economy. The London Industrial Strategy seems to have been the leading edge of the latter, and is included in the collection.




[1] A conference in 2005 in Seville, Spain resulted in a series of draft chapters and a book proposal: Progressive Cities: Innovations in Urban Politics in Europe, Canada and the United States. Daniel Chavez and Einar Braathen (eds.) Amsterdam / Oslo, July, 2006. The proposal never went forward, but chapters were listed on Bologna, Rome, Trondheim, Vancouver, Guelph and several topical themes. Also see Jäggi, Roger Müller and Sil Schmid, Red Bologna (London : Writers and Readers, 1977).

[2] Pierre Clavel and Robert Kraushaar, “On Being Unreasonable: Progressive Planning in Sheffield and Chicago,” International Planning Studies, Vol. 3, No. 2 (1998) pp. 143- 162 was our first effort to capture any of this, based on a ten day field trip in 1990.