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Disorder and Public Governance

  • Sophie Body-Gendrot (a1)

Abstract

In spite of all their assets and resources, global cities (to be understood as a concentration of global capital players along with a large diversity of other presences) have disorder wired into the urban space itself. There are contrasted understandings of public disorder and of its links with globalization. Some disorder is a necessary step in the adjustment of change. Urban space is then a political resource for all kinds of grievances, given coverage by the media and by the internet. The police are an essential piece in their own interaction with protesters. The ritualized nature of public confrontations should be underlined. France offers a good illustration of this phenomenon with its approach to order maintenance. Police officers’ ability to use or not use force, to distribute social status and to categorize their opponents in dealing with order reveals that the police’s role lies at the root of political order and the claims a state makes upon its people for deference to rules, laws and norms. Recent uprisings unveil the role played by urban space and by the empowerment it provides for people assembled together to make claims. Civil societies’ capacity of resistance to decisions or processes perceived as harmful should not be downplayed. New forms of religious terrorism however mark a new chapter in the links of globalization and disorder. Lots of unknowns emerge and we need to understand and accept unpredictability and even embrace it in order to make sense of it in the future. My assumption is that some current forms of public disorder are not just a repetition of past disorder and that we see new patterns emerging.

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