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Id 158
Author Degen, M., ; Garcia, M.,
Title The Transformation of the ‘Barcelona Model’: An Analysis of Culture, Urban Regeneration.

Degen, M., Garcia, M. (2012). The Transformation of the ‘Barcelona Model’: An Analysis of Culture, Urban Regeneration. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 36(5): 1022‑1038.

Keywords Barcelona; Redevelopment; Culture; Urban regeneration; Governance; Social justice
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Abstract Barcelona’s redevelopment has been widely celebrated for its apparently successful combina-tion of cultural strategies with urban regeneration to address social problems. The ‘Barcelona model’ has evolved, however, with changing relationships between urban regeneration, the use of culture and modes of governance. The role of cultural strategy has shifted from being part of a cultural vernacular with social and political citizenship at its core to become a functional tool for ensuring social cohesion and marketing the city’s brand. This is linked to a gradual dilution of bottom-up participatory democracy in governance. Pressures for international competitive-ness are challenging the sustainability of the ‘Barcelona model’, while local actors are trying to ensure social justice at home.

Metodology Analysis of policy documents, discussions held during a symposium at the Centro de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona (CCCB) on 15 May 2008 (see: http://, and interviews with key planners, managers and politicians involved in Barcelona’s urban and cultural development.

Findings Barcelona’s acclaimed approach to restructuring its urban environment was deeply rooted in the city’s post-dictatorial politics, where governance consensus was achieved through dialogue between public institutions and citizens, who were organized in neighbourhood grassroots associations. This unique governance style ensured that culture was integrated as a vernacular expression into the physical landscape of a re-emerging city, actively linking the design of public space with a new democratic culture and social citizenship programmes. The lesson to learn from Barcelona’s way of making and conceiving the city is that the City Council has always been the key actor in managing the process of urban change. While it certainly has adopted a more entrepreneurial approach, the public sector has, so far, always steered the governance and decisionmaking processes of the city. Barcelona’s unique governance styles have enabled a constant renegotiation of how the public and private sector are combined with civil society involvement to ensure economic redistribution and social cohesion. However, Barcelona’s unique and innovative ways of running a city risk failure when it imposes a hegemonic consensus model that undermines creative social strategies and political dissent.
Open Access YES
DOI DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2427.2012.01152.x
Search Database SC (Scopus)
Technique Interview; Document analysis
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