|While urban political economy tends to generalize the functional economic pressures upon socio-political transformations of cities, European research has stressed the importance of historical context and political institutions. Both perspectives’ references to urban culture imply either an economization or an essentialization of urbanity, and thus an underconceptualization of political agency. Whether defined economically, politically, or socio-culturally, most research of cities implies - more or less implicitly - a common ideal of urbanity which lies in the integration potential of plural societies. Urbanity, the spatialized ideal of modernity, and cities, its contextual realizations in place, are the two complementary sides of a reflective process which is locally specific as well as globally entangled. At least to enable a counterfactual to either the economicfunctionalist globalization hypothesis or the historic-culturalist European assumption, empirical research should conceptualize this urban process as plural, contextual, and thus open-ended collective action. To approach the structure and agency aspects of urban culture in mediating state transformation, the debates about new institutionalism, social movements, and modernity serve to conceptualize a comparative framework of urban politics beyond the European context. Instead of adding yet another competing model or even a ‘meta-model’, the ‘City without Qualities’ aims to reduce the complexity of the contemporary urban debate by dismantling some of the fashionable urban ‘buzzwords’ to their basic analytical concepts.