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Political tool or quality experience? Urban livability and the Singaporean state’s global city aspirations

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journal contribution
posted on 16.09.2014, 07:08 by Shaun Teo

In this article, I argue that the concept of urban livability is used as a political tool by the Singaporean state to further its pursuit of global city status. I show how the state uses neighborhood “upgrading” as a mechanism to inscribe strategic meanings of livability onto Singapore’s residential landscapes with the expectation that residents will align their experiences of livability with the former. I use an embodied approach to analyze state manipulation of two residential landscapes—condominiums and public housing—as an active means of official attempts to create two types of citizen-subjects. By juxtaposing the state’s operationalization of livability against livability as understood in the context of residents’ localized lifeworlds, I show how indeterminate outcomes arise from the state’s livability project.