Городской политический режим в Санкт-Петербурге: роль реальных и воображаемых «машин роста» в борьбе за городское пространство
This paper analyses the urban political regime that has emerged in post-Soviet St. Petersburg. There is a widespread belief arising from sociological research into urban policies that when the administrations of big cities require rapid financial capital increase to replenish their budgets there is high probability that a symbiosis will appear combining the institutional benefits of the local authorities with the investment opportunities of businesses. Such coalitional regimes can be termed "growth machines" and are aimed at the maximization the participants’ profits through the efficient transformation of the urban space. This is additionally backed by a rhetoric of "progressive development". In fact, the actual interests and demands of urbanites are often ignored by these "growth machines". Based on qualitative research of city-planning conflicts between local communities, construction companies and the city authorities in St. Petersburg over the period 2005–2012, this paper discusses the national, local and situational specifics of the formation and performance of "growth machines". It also reveals that, irrespective of how "real" the informal arrangements between authorities and businesses are, the major actors in these conflicts often resort to the discursive construction of negative images of "growth machines" in an attempt to discredit the opponents.