Thinking Through Dualisms in Urban Policy Mobilities


The growing use of the notion of ‘policy mobilities’ to conceptualize how policy is made and moved across and among cities and urbanized regions has led to worthwhile insights, but has also encouraged some critiques. Many of these address certain dualisms that seem to undergird the policy mobilities approach. This essay engages with three of these apparent dualisms—success/failure, presence/absence and mobilities/immobilities—and argues that while they must be treated with care, they should not be dismissed or expunged a priori. Rather, we argue that there is utility in conceptualizing urban policy mobilities through relational dyads, rather than oppositional dualisms. If studies of policy mobilities, urban or otherwise, are to maintain their momentum, success, failure, presence, absence, mobilities and immobilities should be understood as being intertwined, mutually constituting and reinforcing elements of policymaking.