Recent anxieties about the viability of critical and radical perspectives in urban research are part of our inheritance from the late 1960s and the backlash against a hegemony that connected positivist epistemology to quantitative methodologies and conservative, state‐centric politics. In this article, I suggest that this memory relies on a caricature of positivist urbanism that creates a dangerous illusion of a tidy past when the cause was clear and it was easy to distinguish allies from adversaries. The linkages between epistemology, methodology and politics were unstable and contingent in positivism’s heyday of the 1960s, and indeed at the birth of positivism itself. The contingent and contextual nexus of epistemology, method and politics offers abundant opportunities for new kinds of hybrids in radical, rigorous and relevant urban research.
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