Castells’The City and the Grassroots: 1983 and Today


Manuel Castells’The City and the Grassroots must be considered one of the most important books ever published on urban social movements. Castells elegantly identifies three core themes of modern urban social movements: collective consumption, defense of cultural‐territorial identity, and local government as a target for political mobilization. Providing rich empirical documentation, Castells makes a persuasive argument about the nature of urban social movements and the critical importance of space and place in social movement mobilization. There is, however, a significant gap in The City and the Grassroots: its failure to consider conservative suburban movements and their relationship to the growing politics of neoliberalism. Castells’ spatially sensitized framework, nonetheless, remains powerful and can be usefully employed to analyze the still poorly understood politics of neoliberalism.