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Doing comparative urbanism differently: conjunctural cities and the stress-testing of urban theory

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journal contribution
posted on 20.08.2020, 10:12 by Özgür Sayın, Michael HoylerMichael Hoyler, John HarrisonJohn Harrison
Ongoing splintering and siloification in urban studies require alternative approaches to bring the major theoretical and epistemological perspectives into constructive dialogue. Reflecting growing calls for engaged pluralism, we analyse the extent to which different perspectives can come together as complementary alternatives in understanding cities, and present a framework for overcoming the key theoretical and methodological challenges caused by fragmentation. Using Istanbul as our illustrative case, we do this in three steps. Theoretically, we stress-test the potentials and limits of four dominant perspectives in urban theory making – global cities, state rescaling, developmental and postcolonial – revealing how each can only ever generate a partial, one-dimensional, explanation. Methodologically, we proceed to make the case for doing comparative urbanism differently by developing a conjunctural approach. Finally, and conceptually, we identify ‘conjunctural cities’ as a distinctive type of city and as a new approach to analysing cities. Our contention is that approaching all cities conjuncturally provides a significant step towards putting engaged pluralism into action, as well as indicating new terrain on which the future of urban theory/urban studies can be constructively debated.



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Geography and Environment

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Urban Studies


SAGE Publications


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© The authors

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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Sage under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-NC). Full details of this licence are available at:

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Mr Michael Hoyler Deposit date: 20 August 2020