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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Urban Actors: Puppets, Ad Libbers, or Something in Between


In urban planning conflicts, how do we view the actors? Do we see them as constrained by their class position to play roles already predestined for them? Or do we regard them as free agents, playing parts in an unstructured and unscripted drama in which each piece of the action provides the trigger for the next? Or something in between? Most of the rich contemporary debate in the literature of urban politics, it seems to me, centers on this central question of the degree of freedom allowed both to individual actors, to groupings of these individuals, and to coalitions between these groups.

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