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Detroit five years after bankruptcy: From coercion to consent

Version 2 2024-06-05, 06:57
Version 1 2021-08-31, 13:37
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-05, 06:57 authored by T Barnes, Josh RooseJosh Roose, BS Turner
Critical scholarship has characterised the 2013–2014 bankruptcy of Detroit – the largest municipal bankruptcy in history – as a fiscal ‘state of exception’ which undermined the democratic foundations of urban citizenship. From this perspective, the imposition of emergency management and declaration of bankruptcy were acts of raw coercion. Drawing upon Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony and empirical evidence, including interviews with civic leaders shortly after the bankruptcy, a survey of public attitudes towards the bankruptcy and public records from the bankruptcy court, this article charts a different interpretation of evolving public opinion in the five years post bankruptcy. We present evidence of a popular narrative among Detroiters which retroactively depicts the bankruptcy as a necessary evil, akin to a market clearing signal at the bottom of a business cycle. Far from bankruptcy being viewed as purely coercive, we suggest that this narrative has operated as an important mechanism of civic and political consent.

History

Journal

Urban Studies

Volume

58

Article number

ARTN 0042098020940160

Pagination

2139-2156

Location

London, Eng.

ISSN

0042-0980

eISSN

1360-063X

Language

English

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Issue

10

Publisher

SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD