Modestly and Immodestly Governing: Multiple Publics and The Veil of the Local State

Authors: Emma Ormerod*, Durham University
Topics: Urban Geography, Economic Geography, Planning Geography
Keywords: Local State, Housing, Entrepreneurialism, Publics
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Proteus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores the place of ‘the public’ in new forms of governing, arguing that the presence of, and differentiated procedures for, multiple publics is increasingly de-democratizing. It examines how a local authority in North East England is becoming a housing developer, understood as a proactive an innovative approach to housing delivery (with the potential for profits to fund wider services) under conditions of austerity and localism. A close examination of this deepening of entrepreneurial governance reveals the way in which the local state strategically selects (Jessop, 2016) the audience or publics to whom they make this new mode of governing visible. For the local state simultaneously conceals and promotes its changing role and identity to different people, coercing its institutional energy towards stimulating the housing market and their own financial returns. In Ranciere’s (1999) terms the local state are therefore practicing a particular ‘modesty’, but also an immodesty depending on its desired audience. In highlighting that the public interest is understood as a negotiable set of values, this paper critically considers what is at stake in the inclusion of new actors within the local state (Peck, 1995, Leitner, 1990), where decision making is becoming less transparent, increasingly financialized and post-democratic.

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