The Politics of Place and the Place of Politics

Authors: Emma Ormerod*, Newcastle University
Topics: Political Geography, Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: local politics, housing regeneration, contestation, social relations
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Virginia B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper considers the condition of local politics though examining the cyclical housing regeneration of a de-industrialised neighbourhood in North East England. Through original empirical research findings, two examples of housing activism at different moments in time will be closely considered. Led by local residents who contested the state-led demolition of family homes, both examples are embedded in local Labour Party politics, although twenty years apart. In examining the social and political relations and different outcomes of these local contestations, key variances in how local politics are managed within local structures of governing are revealed. In particular we can see fractures within entrenched local party politics; the existence of networks alongside struggles over power, representation, legitimacy and decision-making. We see a local manifestation of a growing trend that questions the representation of mature structures of power that the Labour Party holds in deindustrialised areas of the UK (Tomaney, 2016). However, in returning to key work on the relationship between local politics and local governing (Cockburn 1977; Duncan and Goodwin 1988; Cochrane, 1993) the contemporary condition of local politics can be better understood. Accounts of the local scale are critical in relation to global political trends; where apathy, cynicism, lack of expectation and representation and insurgent populist parties are increasingly framed as potential political crises of mature western democracies (Crouch, 2004; Walby, 2015; Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015). This paper therefore centres the importance of understanding the fluidity of social and political relations in understanding the geography of party politics and power.

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