Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Unwinding Privatization: (Re)municipalism and the Public Interest – Interdisciplinary Online Conference

December 10, 2021 @ 8:55 am - 4:30 pm CST

Free with Registration

The purpose of the conference is to examine responses to failures of privatization in cities, especially in the United States and Europe, and what to make of those responses. Since the 1970s municipalities have sold public assets such as water, electricity, gas, waste systems, and transport, to private companies or else transferred the management or delivery of city services to private actors. The results have been at best mixed. Of late, municipalities have been cancelling contracts, letting them expire or repurchasing the resource systems, sometimes as mandated by public referendums. On other occasions, private firms proved either unwilling to bid for a contract or canceled contracts early. This state of affairs has been variously characterized as “re-municipalization,” “new municipalism,” “in-sourcing,” “de-privatization,” and “reverse privatization.”

The conference examines: Which actors, institutions, and forms of finance, enable cities to take ownership of an asset or service previously outsourced or privatized?  How sustainable are these controversial activities and what are their  wider consequences? What explanations best account for these policy directions? What outcomes are missed by posing a private-public divide? What are the levels of power in the political system that facilitate the local “capacity to act”? What do (re)municipalizations portend for the future?

The event is free, but registration is required to attend.

Organized by Alba Alexander (UIC, Political Science), Larry Bennett (DePaul University, Political Science), Evan McKenzie (UIC, Political Science) and Michael Pagano (UIC, Public Administration).

Cosponsored by UIC Department of Political Science, Great Cities Institute, Institute for the Humanities, and College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs.

Welcoming Remarks

8:55-9:00 AM CST

Evan McKenzie, University of Illinois at Chicago

Panel One. Origins of Municipalism: Historical and Conceptual Lessons 

9:00-10:25 AM CST

Chair. Alba Alexander, University of Illinois at Chicago

Gail Radford, State University of New York at Buffalo

The Myth of American Hostility to Public Enterprise

Marco Rosaire Rossi, University of Illinois at Chicago

The Failure of the “Failure of Regulation”

Richardson Dilworth, Drexel University

Suburbanization, (Re)municipalization, and the Right to Water

David McDonald, Queens University, CA

Back to the Future? Pendulum Swings and the Lessons of History for Remunicipalization

Panel Two. Capacity to Act: Legacy and Impact of Privatization in Cities

10:30-11:55 AM CST

Chair. Evan McKenzie, University of Illinois at Chicago

Gregory Pierce, University of California, Los Angeles

Beyond the Strategic Retreat? Explaining Urban Water Privatization’s Shallow Expansion

Martha Kaplan, Vassar College

Radically Municipal Water: Decolonizing the City in Singapore

Heather Whiteside, University of Waterloo

Canadian Public Land Sales and UK Public Finance Initiative Handback: Contradictions and Opportunities

Todd Swanstrom, University of Missouri, St. Louis

Suburbanization as Privatization: The Future of the Public City

Keynote Speaker. The Honorable Dennis Kucinich

12:00-12:45 PM CST

Moderator. Michael Pagano, University of Illinois at Chicago

Panel Three. De-Privatization in Cities: Resistance and Adaptation

1:00-2:25 PM CST

Chair. Larry Bennett, DePaul University

Andrew Cumbers, University of Glasgow

Remunicipalisation, Neoliberalism and the Return of the State

Timothy Moss, Humboldt University

The Many Faces of Municipalisation across Berlin’s Turbulent History

Emanuele Lobina, Public Services International Research Unit, University of Greenwich

Remunicipalisation versus the Zombie: A Taxonomy of Policy Containment Strategies

Germà Bel, University of Barcelona

Remunicipalisation: Are we Heading to a New “Progressive Era”?

Panel Four. Toward (Re)municipalism? The Future of Urban Public Services

2:30-3:55 PM CST

Chair. Jefferey Sellers, University of Southern California

Mildred Warner, Cornell University

Pragmatic Municipalism:  Understanding Trends in Local Government Service Delivery

Nelson Lichtenstein, University of California, Santa Barbara

Sectoral Bargaining on the State and Municipal Levels: Revisiting a Progressive Idea

Rachel Havrelock, University of Illinois at Chicago

The Price of Water, Climate Change, and Remunicipalizing Utilities

Dennis Judd, University of Illinois at Chicago

The American Municipality and the Eclipse of Local Democratic Governance

Closing Remarks

Larry Bennett, DePaul University

Click for speaker biographies and abstracts (PDF) »


December 10, 2021
8:55 am - 4:30 pm CST
Free with Registration
Event Category:


Department of Political Science