Master-planned residential developments: Beyond iconic spaces of neoliberalism?

Pauline McGuirk*, Robyn Dowling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Master-planned residential development has proliferated as a new residential phenomenon in metropolitan areas globally. The trend, the new governance mechanisms it entails and resultant forms of urban development have been critically theorised as products and vectors of neoliberalisation and iconic spaces of the neoliberal city. However, tracing the emergence and enactment of master-planned residential estate (MPRE) development in Sydney, Australia, this paper suggests that more contingent and contextualised theorisations of such spaces can reveal possibilities for animating a different politics of MPREs. Deploying theorisation sensitive to the multiple drivers, logics and political projects played out through MPRE development in situated contexts, the paper traces the political genesis of these developments in Sydney, outlines the multiple drivers and logics accounting for their growing popularity and points to the salience of the complex performance of land and housing markets in their production. The post-structural political economy approach used here to investigate MPRE development can overcome the politically constraining effects of the dominant neoliberal critique. It does so, first, by opening analysis up to the importance of logics, actions and contexts that are irreducible to neoliberalism and, second, by gesturing towards the potential for an alternative politics to be animated through mechanisms, techniques and processes of MPRE development habitually associated with neoliberalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-134
Number of pages15
JournalAsia Pacific Viewpoint
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Master-planned residential development
  • Neoliberalism
  • Post-structural political economy
  • Sydney


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