The Bradlow Report — 18 August 2021
18 August 2021
Volume 2, Issue 2
It’s been a busy year since my last update, focused on more traditional academic writing. A couple of research articles from my dissertation / book project finally reached the light of day. One drawing from my research in Johannesburg and the other primarily from my research in São Paulo. The titles and abstracts are below with their DOI link, as well as a link to where you can download them from my website.
And yes, I did refer to a “book project”! Last week, I signed a contract with Princeton University Press for my first book, tentatively entitled Urban Power: Democracy and Inequality in São Paulo and Johannesburg. Way too soon for a publication date, but it’s a big step on that road! Earlier this summer, I was very honored that the dissertation version of the manuscript received three awards from sections of two different academic societies. It won the best dissertation award in the American Sociological Association’s sections for Comparative Historical Sociology and Collective Behavior & Social Movements. And it was selected for an honorable mention for best dissertation by the Latin American Studies Association’s Brazil section.
Alright, onto the articles, with PDF versions available for free on my website here: https://benjaminbradlow.com/research/
Weapons of the Strong: Elite Resistance and the Neo-Apartheid City. City & Community. https://doi.org/10.1177/1535684121994522
I was interviewed about this article by Dan Claasen for his Future Cities Africa podcast. https://futurecitiesafrica.com/episode/49/weapons-of-the-strong-elite-resistance-and-the-neo-apartheid-city
Transitions to democracy promise equal political power. But political ruptures carry no guarantee that democracy can overcome the accumulated inequalities of history. In South Africa, the transition to democracy shifted power from a racial minority in ways that suggested an unusually high probability of material change. This article analyzes the limits of public power after democratic transitions. Why has the post-Apartheid local state in Johannesburg been unable to achieve a spatially inclusive distribution of public goods despite a political imperative for both spatial and fiscal redistribution? I rely on interviews and archival research, conducted in Johannesburg between 2015 and 2018. Because the color line created a sharp distinction between political and economic power, traditional white urban elites required non-majoritarian and hidden strategies that translated their structural power into effective power. The cumulative effect of these “weapons of the strong” has been to disable the capacity of the local state to countervail the power of wealthy residents’ associations and property developers. Through these strategies, elites repurposed institutional reforms for redistribution to instead reproduce the city’s inequalities.
Embeddedness and cohesion: regimes of urban public goods distribution. Theory and Society. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-021-09456-y
Why do some urban governing regimes realize a more equal distribution of public goods than others? Local government interventions in São Paulo, Brazil, have produced surprisingly effective redistribution of residential public goods — housing and sanitation — between 1989 and 2016. I use original interviews and archival research for a comparative-historical analysis of variation across time in São Paulo’s governance of housing and sanitation. I argue that sequential configurations of a) “embeddedness” of the local state in civil society and b) the “cohesion” of the institutional sphere of the local state, explain why and when urban governing regimes generate the coordinating capacity to distribute public goods on a programmatic basis. I further illustrate how these configurations can explain variation in urban governing regimes across the world.
I’ll be teaching two courses in the semester that begins in September, so I’m not sure if there will be another newsletter this calendar year.