Between Neoliberal Governance and the Right to the City: Participatory politics in Berlin and Tel Aviv


Based on a comparison of Berlin and Tel Aviv, this article investigates the ways in which ensembles of participatory instruments mediate between neoliberal urban regimes and political agency shaping differentially the meaning of participation and the types of claims that can be advanced. The article gives an overview of the recent history of both cities through the lens of participatory politics. Two in-depth case studies further examine the relationship between participatory politics and claim making in each setting: the recent conflict over a social center in the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg in Berlin and the Levinsky tent city of 2011 in Tel Aviv. In the concluding section, the article suggests that, rather than assuming that participatory tools either co-opt movements or can be appropriated by them, we need to rethink the relationship between participatory tools, rights and recognition, and ask how participatory structures and political agency constitute each other in interwoven dynamics.