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Reform + Agency: A Post-Political Perspective

Part 2 Dissertation 2013
Gina Doyle
University of Brighton, UK
The contemporary paradigm of ‘post-politics’ as described by philosopher Jacques Rancière amongst others can be contextualised through the changing political landscape, as the physical and spatial structures of our urban environments are being subjected to mass reorganisation through a shake-up of the welfare system. If welfare reform and State devolution are a dominating influence over the city and its citizens, and consequentially, this dissertation argues, over the professions and practices [agency] involved in the city as a project.

In this paper, the intimacies of the 21st century city are therefore examined through the 'post-political' polemic which, according to Rancière, suggests that the polis [political proper] is undermined by the role of managerial and administrative governance [police] where consensus prevails. The post-political ideology has become embedded in our cities: the policy which governs, the agents who act upon, the citizens who demand, and has had an overriding affect on architectural practice as well as academia.

What does this mean for architecture as a profession?

Architectural culture is explored through the evolution of education and trends in practice, opening up a discussion regarding the role of the architect in the post-political city and examining how alternative modes of agency [the new vanguard] are adopting approaches outside the comfort of convention, beyond the building of buildings, within the realms of researcher, thinker and instigator of [spatial] agency.

This dissertation suggests a rethinking of multi-disciplinary and collaborative models by the profession: moving away from its partial isolation from other disciplines, becoming more critically engaged with the current socio-political framework, operating at macro and micro scales, in order to reflect and act upon the potentials of future urban intervention. This dissertation further argues that rather than seeing the post-political as an obstacle, it should be used as catalyst for the practitioner to find opportunities in the tensions which arise from the complexities of the devolved political, economic and social systems. Thus design becomes a tool for narrating the current condition while simultaneously rethinking new scenarios, whereby spatial and urban agency becomes a mediator/instigator/shareholder in a trans-disciplinary approach, with the objective of empowerment and engagement.

Gina Doyle

Alex Warnock-Smith
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