BOOK REVIEWS 370
residents and tourists is premised upon its fundraising prowess. As Krinsky and Simonet
argue, the private individuals and corporate citizens that direct signiﬁcant philanthropic
dollars to the Central Park Conservancy not only hold considerable sway over this public
space, but equally capture a substantial portion of the positive externalities it yields.
Among the more provocative questions that Krinsky and Simonet’s story (which,
according to the book’s afterword, ends in the summer of 2011, the year they left the ﬁeld)
leaves unexplored is the current economic state of New York City and its relationship to
their concerns over neoliberal urban governance. By most mainstream accounts, many
of the nation’s largest urban centers are (as of early 2018) enjoying ‘renaissances’. To wit,
since experiencing a modest decline in payroll employment during the 2000s, New York
City has over the last several years recorded its fastest rate of job creation in decades.
Since 2010, New York City’s payrolls have exploded by a remarkable 600,000––a 16.4%
increase. Meanwhile, the city’s population has grown by an eye-popping 4.2% (345,000)
While it seems clear that this recent growth has exacerbated the city’s stark
inequality, one must still ponder the question of whether or not New York’s now
decades-old experiment in neoliberal governance has (at last) yielded a ‘better’ city. Few
would ostensibly wish to revisit the decrepit and often dangerous Central Park of the
1970s. At the same time, far too few today recognize that their pleasant strolls through
the city’s parks or enjoyment of its public spaces come at a signiﬁcant cost. Bringing
this to light (as the book admirably does) and discovering ways to share such cost more
equitably––while enhancing the quality of urban life for all–– will undoubtedly represent
two of urban society’s greatest challenges in future decades.
Overall, Krinsky and Simonet’s most valuable contribution lies in their
careful reconsideration of the many complex questions surrounding neoliberal urban
governance policies and practices. While they don’t provide hard and fast answers to
many of these, their deep, thoughtful and measured treatment forces us to renew and
strengthen our commitment to critically interrogate the myriad forces, practices and
organizational structures that invisibly and increasingly condition our most iconic urban
spaces and collective lived experiences within them.
Oliver Cooke, Stockton University
Susan Owens 2015: Knowledge, Policy, and Expertise: The UK Royal
Commission on Environmental Pollution 1970–2011. Oxford: Oxford
The role of experts in policy processes is the key topic of Susan Owens’ book on
the history and influence of the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
This is an accurately researched, thoroughly reflected and well-documented study (the
appendix takes up more than 40% of the book). But Owens generally aims to ‘illuminate
the complex and contingent relations among knowledge, expertise, politics, and policy
formation’ (p. vi). So her findings are interesting beyond the specific fields of
environmental policy and the specific focus on UK royal commissions. This review is
thus not organized following the book’s structure, but in the light of three questions I
think relevant for debates on expertise and policy in the field of urban and regional
studies, too. What kind of relations may develop between knowledge, policy and
expertise? How can we study that empirically? Are there useful criteria for ‘good advice’
or how can the advice of experts be evaluated?
Knowledge and policy may be linked to each other through expert advice
(p. 5). Starting from this notion, Owens is careful throughout to conceive the relations
between knowledge, policy and expertise as complex and dynamic. Consequently she
suggests approaching these relations through either cognitive perspectives that focus