The City as a Commons Reloaded: from the Urban Commons to Co-Cities Empirical Evidence on the Bologna Regulation

Chapter by Elena de Nictolis and Christian Iaione: “The City of Bologna is widely recognized for an innovative regulatory framework to enable urban commons. The “Regulation on public collaboration for the Urban Commons” produced more than 400 pacts of collaboration and was adopted by more than 180 Italian cities so far.

The chapter presents an empirical assessment of 280 pacts (2014-2016). The analytical approach is rooted in political economy (Polany 1944; Ahn & Ostrom 2003) and quality of democracy analysis (Diamond & Morlino, 2005). It investigates whether a model of co-governance applied to urban assets as commons impacts on the democratic qualities of equality and rule of law at the urban level. The findings suggest suggests that legal recognition of the urban commons is not sufficient if not coupled with an experimentalist policymaking approach to institutionally redesign the City as a platform enabling collective action of multi-stakeholder partnerships that should be entrusted with the task to trigger neighborhood-based sustainable development. Neighborhood scale investments that aim to seed community economic ventures emerge as a possible way to overcome the shortcomings of the first policy experiments. They also suggest the need for more investigation by scholars on the inclusiveness and diversity facets related to the implementation of urban commons policies….(More)”