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Governing the culture of cities: a Foucaultian framework

Kendall, G. and Wickham, G. (1996) Governing the culture of cities: a Foucaultian framework. Southern Review, 29 (2). pp. 202-219.


Our aim in this article is to clarify and extend the efforts of scholars who use Foucault's notion of governmentality within the "cultural studies" tradition, specifically in regard to the culture of cities. We promote an understanding of "culture" in purely governmental terms. We write on the government of the culture of cities - the various techniques, built up over many centuries but reaching their zenith in the modem era, from the eighteenth century to the present, which attempt to manage or control as many aspects of urban life as they can reach (and never completely succeed). In addressing this aim we first offer a reading of Foucault's notion of governmentality which features the government of urban culture, highlighting the importance of cities as conditions of possibility for the emergence of governmentality. Second, we use our developed notion of urban governmentality as the basis for an examination of three historical attempts to govern urban culture, and third, we assess the effectiveness of certain techniques used in governing the culture of cities in terms of our treatment of governmentality.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: English Dept., University of Adelaide
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