Democracy and Cities II

In cities around the world, citizens are channeling their frustration with existing community engagement processes into the creation of urban alliances. These alliances bring together diverse civil society actors in pursuit of social change.

This is the second part of our two-part discussion about democracy and cities. We talk to Amanda Tattersall about how urban alliances work in practice in different cities around the world. We travel to Cape Town in South Africa and Barcelona in Spain, before returning to Sydney, Australia.

“I’m interested in the urban alliances that are going to allow citizens to have a better city. I see them as progressive, because if citizens are going to have more rights, and more resources supporting their lives, that is a progressive outcome.” 

Dr Amanda Tattersall

If you missed the first part of our discussion you might want to catch up on that episode first. We talk to Kurt Iveson about urban alliances that allow citizens to play a proactive role in shaping their cities. Kurt suggested these alliances are an alternative to the reactive modes of engaging people in city making that exist in current urban governance and planning frameworks.


Dr Amanda Tattersall is a scholar and a change maker. She is a Post-Doctoral Fellow as part of the Organising Cities Project in the School of Geosciences. She is the founder of some of Australia’s most interesting social change organisations, including the Sydney Alliance and, and she is the founder and Host of the ChangeMakers podcast, which tells stories about people trying to change the world. Her book, Power in Coalition, was the first international analytical study of alliance building as a strategy for social change.

As an urban geographer, she focuses on questions of how the city can be a subject for democratic politics. She is currently undertaking research on intra and inter city coalition building strategies to identify ways in which networks of urban alliances may help citizens present solutions to wicked global problems like climate change, poverty, inequality and the politics of refuge. Her PhD was industrial relations, and she has previously worked as a union organiser and was an elected official at Unions NSW. As a teacher, Amanda’s greatest passion is to bring the community in – with stories, guest speakers, practical projects that are strengthened by her extensive network amongst Australia’s not for profit community.

The Democratic Experiment Series

This episode is a part of a series called The Democratic Experiment. This series is a partnership between City Road and The Sydney Policy Lab at the University of Sydney. The Sydney Policy Lab exists to break down the barriers between researchers, policymakers, campaigners and the community at large. At the Sydney Policy Lab people of all backgrounds are coming together to strengthen our democracy, reduce spiralling inequality and help to empower communities to shape their own future.

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