Be Berlin! Governing the City through Freedom


In this article, I examine how contemporary Berlin is governed, with a particular focus on the production of urban space. My points of reference are the term ‘government’ (as employed by Foucault) and the field of governmentality studies (where it is applied empirically). Based on a critical discourse and dispositive analysis of the city’s current urban development policy, I propose that urban governance in Berlin may be analysed through the lens of three central dispositives: the dispositive of governing through citizenship; the dispositive of the creative city; and the dispositive of the social city. I discuss the characteristics of these dispositives of urban governance, drawing on a number of examples taken from the discipline of urban space production in order to look specifically at the aims and objectives of governance, its subjects and the ways it manifests itself. In conclusion, I suggest that the new forms of governance based on empowerment and cooperation have by no means replaced disciplinary technologies of governance, but are rather embedded within them.