For the past five years, I have been exploring how the discipline of economics, with its focus on individual rational choice, has radically altered the theory and practice of urban governance.  This interest has led to research on market-based urban policies, their origins and the complicated ways in which they are enacted.

The following publications examine the history and politics of congestion pricing as an intervention in urban governance that seeks to recast drivers as rational consumers of roadway space:

West, John. 2017a. “Making Market Rationality: Material Semiotics and the Case of Congestion Pricing in New York City.” Urban Geography 38 (2): 221–38. doi:

Rivero, Juan*, Benjamin Teresa*, and John West*. 2017. “Locating Rationalities in Planning: Market Thinking and Its Others in the Spaces, Institutions and Materials of Contemporary Urban Governance.” Urban Geography 38 (2): 174–76. doi:

West, John. 2015. “Translation: William Vickrey and the Remaking of Transportation Knowledge Infrastructure.” In Planning for a Material World, edited by Robert Beauregard and Laura Lieto. Research in Planning and Urban Design. New York, NY: Routledge.


The following article examines the politics of governing with data through an ethnographic study of a school slated for closure because of poor performance.

West, John. 2017b. “Data, Democracy and School Accountability: Controversy over School Evaluation in the Case of DeVasco High School.” Big Data & Society 4 (1): 2053951717702408. doi: