'Given its close links to the major changes that have taken place in Barcelona since the Transition to democracy, the concept of the "Barcelona model" is a useful point of entry for reflecting on the city's most significant processes of transformation. This analysis can be based on an interest in public space, if we approach it through urbanism; in the built environment, if through architecture; in development models, if through the economy; in the territorial model, if through geography; in institutional policies, if through political science; in the activities, behaviour, struggles and changes to different social actors, if through sociology, history or anthropology. All of these address key components that play a role in forming the Barcelona model.'

Mari Paz Balibrea, Barcelona: del modelo a la marca

This working group aims to analyse the processes behind the design of city brands that produce differential value and improve the competitiveness of local areas in a global market. It focuses on the elements that characterise these standardised processes in local areas on a global scale and generate strategies of social substitution, reclassification of urban zones, processes that promote gentrification and a much more precarious social fabric. The case study of Barcelona will allow the group to analyse some preliminary concepts and directions in order to help us contextualise the events of the past and optimise the struggles of the present. The so-called "Barcelona model" and its commercial underside, the "Barcelona brand" are the core ideas, and we will be adding other chapters – not in a linear way, but by overlapping and linking conflicting movements.

The group will analyse the social reaction to the trivialisation of the territory, the "culturisation" of the economy, the processes of extraction of collectively produced wealth, and the urban plans and public and private actions that have contributed to creating the omnipresent Barcelona brand. In contrast to the entrepreneurial city and urban logic based on competitiveness, it is possible to identify emerging cooperative and social solidarity processes that reinstate narratives that have been left out of metropolitan branding mechanisms, and also embody a new paradigm for the defense of urban commons. And it is precisely in this new social paradigm that we want to intervene: reflecting, acting and sharing experiences.

Coordinated by the Observatorio Metropolitano de Barcelona


Tuesday 18 and Friday 28 September and Tuesdays 2 and 9 October, from 7 to 9 pm.

Tuesday 18 September, 7 pm
SESSION 1: Creating a Monopoly based on Plunder
With Mauro Castro (Observatorio Metropolitano Barcelona)
Text: David Harvey: El arte de la renta. Barcelona, MACBA, 2005

Friday 28 September, 7 pm
SESSION 2: Branding the City
With Joan M. Gual (Observatorio Metropolitano Barcelona)
Texts: Mari Paz Balibrea: Barcelona: del modelo a la marca at: and Descubrir Mediterráneos. La resignificación del mar en la Barcelona postindustrial in:
Tour-isms. The Defeat of Dissent. Barcelona: Fundació Tàpies, 2004*
Tuesday 2 October, 7 pm
SESSION 3: Globalised Urbanism versus Civic Urbanism
With Marc Martí (Observatorio Metropolitano Barcelona)
Text: Jordi Borja: Revolución y contrarrevolución en la ciudad global at:

Tuesday 9 October, 7 pm
SESSION 4: Civic Participation and the Right to the City. The role of the social movements in the Barcelona model.
With Jordi Bonet (president of the Federació d’Associacions de Veïns de Barcelona, FAVB)
Audio: Jordi Bonet: Barcelona 1976-2011. Balance crítico de un modelo de desarrollo urbano at:

Mauro Castro is a researcher and social activist, and a member of the Observatorio Metropolitano de Barcelona and the Universidad Nómada network. He holds a degree in Economic Science from Universtitat de Barcelona and a Master's degree in Sociology, and he is currently preparing his doctoral thesis at the Institut de Govern i Polítiques (IGOP) on the subject of urban transformations on Barcelona's waterfront, the governance policies that have gone along with them, and resistance and mobilisation processes.

Joan M. Gual is a member of the Universidad Nómada and the Observatorio Metropolitano de Barcelona. He holds a degree in Audiovisual Communication from the University of Málaga and a Master's degree in Creative Documentary from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. He is currently writing his doctoral thesis Del Xino al Raval a la no ficció.

Marc Martí i Costa has a degree in Sociology from Universitat de Barcelona, a Master's Research degree from the Sociology Department at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and a PhD in Public Policy and Social Change from the Institut de Govern i Polítiques Públiques (IGOP). He has been visiting researcher in the departments of Geography and Spatial Planning at the Univestiteit van Amsterdam, University of Durham and Università IUAV di Venzia. Since 2002 he has been a researcher at IGOP, working in the areas of social movements, civic participation, urban policies and cooperativism.
Jordi Bonet is an associate researcher at the Institut de Govern i Polítiques Públiques (IGOP) in the area of urban public policies (urban regeneration models for historic city centres, socio-spatial vulnerability, local governance...), and teaches at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and the SIMReF (Interdisciplinary Seminar on Femenist Research Methodology). He has also participated in various movements in defense of the right to the city (squatters' movement, against civic by-laws, grassroots movements in the historic city centre...) and is currently the president of the Barcelona Federation of Neighbourhood Associations (FAVB).

MACBA Public Programs
Tel. (+34) 93 481 46 81
programespublics [at] macba [dot] cat

The essence of the fragment and the module resonates deeply in my work.
Pep Agut