Making Sense of Remunicipalisation: Theoretical Reflections and Political Possibilities of a Post-Neoliberal Order

Authors: Andrew Cumbers*, University of Glasgow
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: Remunicipalisation, neoliberalism, governance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon C2, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The phenomenon of remunicipalisation has emerged in recent years to mark a global trend since 2000 (involving 835 cases in 45 countries) for cities to take formerly privatised assets, infrastructure and services back into public ownership. It is a trend most prominent in basic service sectors such as water and energy but is evident too in a range of diverse utility and infrastructure areas – from education, health, refuse and other local government services - arising from the problems and contradictions rising from four decades of privatization and marketization of public services. In this paper I attempt to situate remunicipalisation with broader debates about the changing nature of urban politics and governance along two critical dimensions. First, I seek to critically interrogate remunicipalisation from the perspective of ongoing debates within the broader canvas of neoliberal political-economic governance, and secondly, I critically evaluate the progressive potential of remunicipalisation for achieving more transformational societal change in developing alternative and more socially empoIring and democratic, sustainable institutional forms. The underlying argument of the paper is that remunicipalisation represents a critical moment in the demise of neoliberalism, signifying a shift towards a new post-neoliberal governance regime. However, this return of the state can have politically regressive as well as progressive aspects.

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