In my view, many of these analyses paid little attention to the global situation. There is obvious tension here. Economics are obviously global; politics, by contrast, much less. The city was, for me, a way of questioning and investigating this tension. In this book, the Moroccan city is understood both as a class project and a governmental problem. More concretely, the book tries to connect urban megaprojects like the Bouregreg project in Rabat, a salient example of a class project, with social initiatives such as Cities Without Slums within a broader analysis of political transformation.
While the first kind of projects are directly concerned with the opening up of local places to global market forces, the second kind of projects are concerned with the transformation of urban life itself—especially the lives of the urban poor who are often perceived as a threat to the new urban order.
Existing urban life had to be governed and adapted to the new conditions brought forth by neoliberal globalization. It looks at the history of urban politics in Morocco from the s onwards and considers the implementation of a structural adjustment program SAP in a watershed moment from which the current transformations are to be explained. The combination of economic liberalization and severe social unrest posed serious challenges to the ruling establishment. I wanted to understand how it affected authoritarian government itself and how it gave rise to new relations and geographies of power.
The key to understanding contemporary authoritarianism in Morocco lies thus not only in the monarchy as a core institution, in its religious authority or its neopatrimonial power and its clientilistic networks, but also in the class projects of urban renewal, slum upgrading, poverty alleviation, gentrification, structural adjustment, market liberalization, foreign capital investment, and the creation of a good business climate. Instead of focusing on how much power the monarchy possesses, the book tries to capture how methods and techniques of government and rule have changed within the context of our contemporary global situation.
The creation of a "good business climate" became key for the ways in which authoritarianism transformed and the ways in which the interests of ruling domestic elites and global economic elites increasingly intertwined. There are three broad aims in the book with regard to the wider literature. Firstly, I wanted to bridge the gap Middle East urban studies on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the wider field of political science dealing with questions of power, government, and authoritarianism.
Secondly, the book brings together Marxian and Foucauldian perspectives in urban geography and urban politics in order to understand the close and interdependent relationship between interests of capital and one of the central problems of modern society: how to govern human beings. As Foucault argued convincingly, capitalist expansion is fundamentally dependent on the integration of human life and human bodies into the machinery of production and capital accumulation. This implies that in a context of capitalist globalization and economic liberalization, authoritarian political systems have to take the government of their populations very seriously.
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Finally, the books tries to bring a new perspective on the issue of neoliberalism too often simplified and reduced to a container concept and the issue of class too often reduced to a concept by which one can stratify society into different sociological categories, e. I try to conceptualize neoliberalism as a set of projects which differ depending on the time, the place, and the context. I use the concept of class to understand the nature of these projects, and the nature of the strategies and agency behind them. Furthermore, it speaks to urban geography and sociology students who are interested in the political transformation of the urban space in the Global South and to political theorists and critical scholars working on interrelated issues of capitalist globalization, class agency, state reformation, and neoliberal and authoritarian governmentalities.
In terms of impact, I think the book addresses some important concerns. First of all, the region still suffers from this aura of exceptionalism. Moreover, the fact that many countries today face similar problems at the same time shows the need to take the global situation seriously and expose the deeply relational geography of power and a more radical process of political transformation, whether in Morocco or elsewhere.
There is an exciting and growing body of literature that questions some of the assumptions sketched above and which tries to understand the region as a global region, a global Middle East or a global North Africa.
My book strives to be one extra contribution to that tradition. Additionally, although I spent little attention to the many forms of social protest witnessed in Morocco over the past decade, some of the insights and arguments presented in the book do try to make a contribution to a deeper understanding of some of the root causes of the still ongoing uprisings in Morocco and the wider the region.
J: What other projects are you working on now? KB: I am trying to look at questions of political transformation from the rural margins in Morocco and explore the complex interplay between authoritarianism, economic globalization, and contentious politics. Over the past decade, we have seen a significant increase of political activity in the rural margins, not only in Morocco but also in Tunisia and other countries in the region.
Contestation in these margins was driven by demands centered around social and indigenous rights, control over natural resources, and social and environmental justice. However, their impact remains largely underestimated and understudied. I published an article on the revolt of small towns in Morocco a few years ago, and I would really like to explore these issues more in-depth.
Within an ever more pressing debate on the environment, climate change, human-nature relations the Anthropocene and the ways in which global capitalism impacts upon both society and nature, there is an increasing literature that tries to capture how people living in the margins of contemporary societies, indigenous peoples, peasant peoples, etc.
Despite this change in research focus, the city remains at the back of my head, as I am convinced that the changes in the rural margins and small towns of Morocco are very much related to some of the changes in the main urban areas and the broader changing relation between town and country under neoliberal reform. With the accession to the throne of Mohammed VI in , urban politics in Morocco took a new turn. More important, however, is failure of nerve—failure of imagination. Consider the case for the introduction of fully automatic home laundry equipment in Western Europe at a time when few homes had even semiautomatic machines.
Hoover, Ltd. Due to insufficient demand in the home market and low exports to the European continent, the large washing machine plant in England operated far below capacity. The company needed to sell more of its semiautomatic or automatic machines.
The results showed feature preferences clearly enough among several countries see Exhibit 2. The incremental unit variable costs in pounds sterling of customizing to meet just a few of the national preferences were:. The lowest retail prices in pounds sterling of leading locally produced brands in the various countries were approximately:. Product customization in each country would have put Hoover in a poor competitive position on the basis of price, mostly due to the higher manufacturing costs incurred by short production runs for separate features.
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Because Common Market tariff reduction programs were then incomplete, Hoover also paid tariff duties in each continental country. In the Hoover case, an imaginative analysis of automatic washing machine sales in each country would have revealed that. Italian automatics, small in capacity and size, low-powered, without built-in heaters, with porcelain enamel tubs, were priced aggressively low and were gaining large market shares in all countries, including West Germany.
The best-selling automatics in West Germany were heavily advertised three times more than the next most promoted brand , were ideally suited to national tastes, and were also by far the highest-priced machines available in that country. Italy, with the lowest penetration of washing machines of any kind manual, semiautomatic, or automatic , was rapidly going directly to automatics, skipping the pattern of first buying hand-wringer, manually assisted machines and then semiautomatics. Detergent manufacturers were just beginning to promote the technique of cold-water and tepid-water laundering then used in the United States.
The growing success of small, low-powered, low-speed, low-capacity, low-priced Italian machines, even against the preferred but highly priced and highly promoted brand in West Germany, was significant. It contained a powerful message that was lost on managers confidently wedded to a distorted version of the marketing concept according to which you give customers what they say they want.
In this case, it was obvious that, under prevailing conditions, people preferred a low-priced automatic over any kind of manual or semiautomatic machine and certainly over higher-priced automatics, even though the low-priced automatics failed to fulfill all their expressed preferences.
The supposedly meticulous and demanding German consumers violated all expectations by buying the simple, low-priced Italian machines. It was equally clear that people were profoundly influenced by promotions of automatic washers; in West Germany, the most heavily promoted ideal machine also had the largest market share despite its high price. Two things clearly influenced customers to buy: low price regardless of feature preferences, and heavy promotion regardless of price.
Both factors helped customers get what they most wanted—the superior benefits bestowed by fully automatic machines. The promotion should also have targeted the husband to give him, preferably in the presence of his wife, a sense of obligation to provide an automatic washer for her even before he bought an automobile for himself.
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An aggressively low price, combined with heavy promotion of this kind, would have overcome previously expressed preferences for particular features. The Hoover case illustrates how the perverse practice of the marketing concept and the absence of any kind of marketing imagination let multinational attitudes survive when customers actually want the benefits of global standardization.
Globalization, Violence and the Visual Culture of Cities de Christoph Lindner en Gandhi
The whole project got off on the wrong foot. It asked people what features they wanted in a washing machine rather than what they wanted out of life. Selling a line of products individually tailored to each nation is thoughtless. Managers who took pride in practicing the marketing concept to the fullest did not, in fact, practice it at all. Hoover asked the wrong questions, then applied neither thought nor imagination to the answers.
Such companies are like the ethnocentricists in the Middle Ages who saw with everyday clarity the sun revolving around the earth and offered it as Truth. With no additional data but a more searching mind, Copernicus, like the hedgehog, interpreted a more compelling and accurate reality.
Data do not yield information except with the intervention of the mind. Information does not yield meaning except with the intervention of imagination. Its role is profoundly different from what it has been for the ordinary corporation during its brief, turbulent, and remarkably protean history. Neither fate, nor nature, nor God but rather the necessity of commerce created this role.