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Encounters with an Open Mind: A Relational Grounding for Neighborhood Governance

From Austerity to Abundance?

ISBN: 978-1-78714-466-8, eISBN: 978-1-78714-465-1

Publication date: 12 November 2018


Neighborhood governance has become a widespread approach to improving the quality of life in cities. The idea is that sustained interactions between public professionals and residents will better meet the needs of local areas and people. However, neighborhood working approaches purporting to provide tailor-made policies and solutions tend to perpetuate habitual practices and hegemonic institutions of hierarchy and competition. This chapter enquires how conditions can be created for different kinds of conversations and relationships to emerge that lead to innovative practices and sustainable change. I argue that public professionals need not only interact extensively with residents but should also engage in encounters with an open mind. Empirically illustrated with an innovative approach to neighborhood working in Amsterdam (the Netherlands), I explain how they can go beyond habitual practices by letting new shared views and actions emerge in-between them. Doing so fosters deeper institutional transformations toward a relational grounding for urban governance and public administration.




The chapter benefited from comments on a presentation of an earlier draft at the 10th Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference, on July 8–10, 2015, Lille. I am grateful to two anonymous reviewers and the Editor for their supportive and constructive feedback. Finally, I am indebted to all research participants, especially to Martien van Rijn, May-Britt Jansen, Joep van Egmond, Ron de Groot, and Enrico Kruydenhof for their extensive support.


Bartels, K.P.R. (2018), "Encounters with an Open Mind: A Relational Grounding for Neighborhood Governance", From Austerity to Abundance? (Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, Vol. 6), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 181-200.



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