Governing Cities: Notes on the Spatialisation of Virtue

Thomas S D Osborne, Nikolas Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

208 Citations (Scopus)


This paper represents a series of speculations concerning the imagination of the city as a space of government, authority, and ‘the conduct of conduct’ . The authors argue that it is possible to understand the myriad ways in which various authorities have sought to govern the city through an interrogation of the series of means through which the city has been ‘diagrammed’ as a space of power, regulation, ethics, and citizenship. These speculations take a historical but not a historically ‘periodised’ form; the authors consider in turn the diagramming of the city in the ancient Greek world, the nineteenth-century liberal diagramming of the city, eugenic models of the city, and latter-day neoliberal modes of visualising, programming, and governing urban spaces. The aim is neither to found yet another theory of spatialisation nor to advance a Foucauldian urban sociology but to gauge the parameters which have bequeathed us the contemporary city as a governed and ethically saturated space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-760
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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