Dr. Warren Magnusson

Dr. Warren Magnusson
Professor Emeritus
Political Science

D. Phil. (1978) (Oxford)

Area of expertise

Contemporary social and political thought, governmentality and politics

Warren Magnusson is a political theorist with a particular interest in the urban and the local as sites of politics and government.

His most recent book, Local Self-Government and the Right to the City (2015) connects work he did at the beginning of his academic career to more contemporary concerns. He argues that the “right to the city” has to be understood in relation to the principle of local self-government if we are to make sense of our democratic possibilities. In a slightly earlier book, Politics of Urbanism: Seeing Like a City (2011), he argues that we must make the city rather than the state the main object of our analytical (and political) attention. These two books complete a trilogy that began with The Search for Political Space (1996), an exploration of the potential for progressive urban politics.

Magnusson has always had a particular interest in politics in Canada, as is reflected in the influential volume he edited with Andrew Sancton on City Politics in Canada (1983), two co-edited volumes on BC politics, The New Reality (1983) and After Bennett (1986), various articles and book chapters he published in the subsequent decades, and another edited volume, with Karena Shaw, A Political Space: Reading the Global through Clayoquot Sound.

He is a founding member of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Cultural, Social, and Political Thought (CSPT), as well as of the Urban Studies Committee, which organizes the CityTalks in Victoria. Having taught many different courses on urban politics and political theory over the years, he offered his last course as a regular faculty member – a seminar on self-government  – in January 2016. He continues to advise graduate students interested in contemporary political theory and/or urban politics.

  • Contemporary social and political thought
  • Governmentality and politics
  • The local and the global
  • The political economy of the urban
  • Urbanism as a way of life
  • Local Self-Government and the Right to the City (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015).
  • Politics of Urbanism: Seeing Like a City (London: Routledge, 2011).
  • A Political Space: Reading the Global through Clayoquot Sound (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), edited with Karena Shaw.
  • The Search for Political Space: Globalization, Social Movements, and the Urban Political Experience (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996).
  • After Bennett: A New Politics for British Columbia (Vancouver: New Star Books, 1986), edited with John DeMarco, et al.
  • The New Reality: The Politics of Restraint in British Columbia (Vancouver: New Star Books, 1984), edited with William K. Carroll, et al.
  • City Politics in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983), edited with Andrew Sancton.

Articles in academic journals:

  • "Bringing Politics Back In," International Political Sociology, 9:1 (March 2015), 91-93.
  • "The Symbiosis of the Urban and the Political," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38:5 (September 2014), 1561-75.
  • "The City of God and the Global City,” CTheory.net tdo43-10/5/2006
  • "Protecting the Right of Local Self-Government," Canadian Journal of Political Science, 38:4 (December 2005), 897-922.
  • "Urbanism, cites and local self-government,” Canadian Public Administration, 48:1 (Spring 2005), 96-123.
  • "Are Municipalities Creatures of the Provinces?" Journal of Canadian Studies, 39:2 (Spring 2005), 5-29.
  • "Unicity, Megacity, Global City," Working Papers in Local Governance and Democracy, no 1 (1999), 108‑116.
  • "Social Movements and the Global City," Millennium: Journal of International Studies, XXIII:3 (Winter 1994), 621-45.
  • "In Transition: The Women's House Saving Action," with Leslie Kenny, Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, XXX:3 (August 1993), 359-76.
  • "Socialism and Monotheism: A Response to Jenson and Keyman," with R.B.J. Walker, Studies in Political Economy: A Socialist Review, 34 (Spring 1991), 235-39.
  • "De-Centring the State: Political Theory and Canadian Political Economy," with R.B.J. Walker, Studies in Political Economy: A Socialist Review, 26 (Summer 1988), 37-71.
  • "Bourgeois Theories of Local Government," Political Studies, XXXIV:1 (1986), 1-18.
  • "The Local State in Canada: Theoretical Perspectives," Canadian Public Administration, XXVIII:4 (1985), 575-99.
  • "Political Science, Political Economy, and the Local State," Urban History Review, XIV:1 (June 1985), 47-53. [Review Article.]
  • "Urban Politics and the Local State," Studies in Political Economy: A Socialist Review, 16 (Spring 1985), 111-42.
  • "Metropolitan Reform in the Capitalist City," Canadian Journal of Political Science, XIV:3 (September 1981), 557-85.

Chapters in scholarly books:

  • "Immigrant Settlement Policy in British Columbia," with Serena Kataoka, in Erin Tolley and Robert Young, eds., Immigrant Settlement Policy in Canadian Municipalities (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011), 241-94.
  • "Seeing Like a City: How to Urbanize Political Science," in Jonathan S. Davies and David L. Imbroscio, eds. Critical Urban Studies: New Directions (Albany NY: State University of New York Press 2010), pp. 41-53.
  • "Scaling Government to Politics," in Roger Keil and Rianne Mahon, eds., Leviathan Undone: Towards a Political Economy of Scale (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009), 105-20.
  • "Beyond the Politics of Nostalgia," in Oliver Schmidtke, ed., The Third Way Transformation of Social Democracy: Normative claims and policy initiatives in the 21st century (Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing, 2002), 181-97.
  • "The City as the Hope of Democracy," in Caroline Andrew, Katherine Graham, and Susan Phillips, eds., Urban Affairs: Back on the Policy Agenda (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002), 331-44.
  • "The Globalization of Political Space: Reflections on Clayoquot Sound,” in Robert E. Bedeski and John A. Schofield, eds. Prospects for Development in the Asia-Pacific Area, Canadian Western Geographical Series, Vol. 37 (Victoria, BC: Western Geographical Press, 2000), 79-95.
  • "Politicizing the Global City," in Engin Isin, ed. Democracy, Citizenship, and the Global City (London: Routledge, 2000), 289-306.
  • “Hyperspace: A Political Ontology of the Global City," in Richard V. Ericson and Nico Stehr (eds.), Governing Modern Societies (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), 80-104.
  • "State Sovereignty, Localism, and Globalism," in James P. Bickerton and Alain-G. Gagnon (eds.), Canadian Politics, 3nd ed. (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 1999), 57-78.
  • "Globalization, Movements, and the Decentred State,” in William K. Carroll (ed.), Organizing Dissent: Contemporary Social Movements in Theory and Practice, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Garamond Press, 1997), 94-113.
  • "Victoria Regina: Social Movements and Political Space," in Jon Caulfield and Linda Peake (eds.), City Lives and City Forms: Critical Research and Canadian Urbanism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 324-47.
  • "Power and Politics in the Global City," in Janice Caulfield and John Wanna (eds.), Power and Politics in the City: Brisbane in Transition (South Melbourne: Macmillan Education Australia, 1995), 18-33.
  • "Dissidence and Insurgency: Municipal Foreign Policy in the 1980s," in Henri Lustiger-Thaler and Daniel Salee (eds.), Artful Practices: The Political Economy of Everyday Life (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1994), 162-88.
  • "De-centring the State," in James P. Bickerton and Alain-G. Gagnon (eds.), Canadian Politics, 2nd ed. (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 1994), 567-86.
  • "Metropolitan Change and Political Disruption: The New Left, the New Right, and the Post-War Orthodoxy," in Frances Frisken (ed.), The Changing Canadian Metropolis (Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies Press, University of California, and Toronto: Canadian Urban Institute, 1994), vol. 2, 541-60.
  • "Social Movements: Presentation and Representation," in Gregory Albo, David Langille and Leo Panitch (eds.), A Different Kind of State? Popular Power and Democratic Administration (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1993), 122-30.
  • "The Constitution of Movements vs. the Constitution of the State," in Henri Lustiger-Thaler (ed.), Political Arrangements: Power and the City (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1992), 69-91.
  • "Decentring the State, or Looking for Politics," in William K. Carroll (ed.), Organizing Dissent: Contemporary Social Movements in Theory and Practice (Toronto: Garamond Press, 1992), 69-80.
  • "Progressive Politics and Canadian Cities," in Desmond S. King and Jon Pierre (eds.), Challenges to Local Government (London: SAGE, 1990), 173-94.
  • "Regeneration and Quality of Life in Vancouver," in Dennis Judd and Michael Parkinson (eds.), Leadership and Urban Regeneration, SAGE Urban Affairs Annual Reviews, Volume 37 (Newbury Park, CA.: SAGE, 1990), 171-87.
  • "Critical Social Movements," in Alain-G. Gagnon and James P. Bickerton (eds.), Canadian Politics: An Introduction to the Discipline (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 1990), 525-41.
  • "The Reification of Political Community," in R.B.J. Walker and Saul H. Mendlowitz (eds.), Contending Sovereignties: Redefining Political Community (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 1990), 45-60.
  • "Libertarian Municipalism and the Reification of Political Space," excerpted in City Magazine, XI:2/3 (Spring 1990), 23-28.
  • "Statism and the Closure of Urban Politics: Canada, Britain and the U.S.A.," in Henry J. Pratt, Charles D. Elder and Harold L Wolman (eds.), Constitutional Regimes and the City: The U.S., Canada and Britain (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1989), 19-34.
  • "Community Organization and Local Self-Government," in L.D. Feldman (ed.), Politics and Government of Urban Canada (4th ed.; Toronto: Methuen, 1981), 61-86.
  • "The New Neighbourhood Democracy: Anglo-American Experience in Historical Perspective," in L.J. Sharpe (ed.), Decentralist Trends in Western Democracies (London: SAGE Publications, 1979), 119-56