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Austerity as Infrastructure

Contemporary austerity policies have forced national and local state structures to change in fundamental ways which has changed the architecture of public service provision and citizens’ relationship to the state, their communities, and each other. The state has withdrawn from some services or passed them to the private sector, cut back on other functions, while at the same time expanding in other ways, such as the security state. Through this lens we explore the ways in which the changing infrastructure of the state becomes a tool to govern social life in highly uneven and unequal ways.

Research projects

Research projects currently being undertaken on this theme include:

Levelling Up Left Behind Places: Towards a Decentred National Political Economy

Levelling Up Left Behind Places: Towards a Decentred National Political Economy

This project is concerned with the nature, causes, and scale of the 'left behind places' problem in the UK. Since it was elected in 2019, winning many northern constituencies formerly held by Labour, the UK Conservative government has made repeated pledges that it intends to 'level up' economic prosperity and opportunities across the country's cities, towns and localities.

Youth and Work in the Global South

Youth and Work in the Global South

We are collaborating to scope a Commission on Youth and Work in the Global South at the University of Cambridge. Work is critical to people's lives not only as a source of livelihood but also as a source of a sense of identity, social contact and sense of belonging, and psychological well-being. The World Bank estimates that 1 billion young people will enter the labour market in the next 10 years but only 400 million of them are likely to find formal jobs. Nine-tenths of today's 1.8 billion young people live in the Global South.

Decent work and youth livelihoods

Decent work and youth livelihoods

This project will assess the policy challenges in responding to the growing crisis of youth (un)employment, working poverty and livelihoods in three Sub-Saharan African countries.

The Great Austerity Debate

The Great Austerity Debate

Dr Mia Gray and Professor Susan J. Smith, working with Patrick Morris of Menagerie Theatre Company, have developed an innovative way to increase the impact of their research. The project - a collaboration between scholars, artists and a public that includes you - takes the shape of a play entitled A week in the life of Megan K. It is, however, no ordinary piece of theatre...

Understanding Labour Markets

Understanding Labour Markets

This project is concerned with how labour markets are shaped, structured and regulated.

Regimes of Austerity:  Economic Change and the Politics of Contraction

Regimes of Austerity: Economic Change and the Politics of Contraction

This research examines the politics of austerity in British and North American cities as they respond to recession, recovery, fiscal uncertainty, growing economic inequality, and changing policy demands.

Structural Transformation, Adaptability and City Economic Evolutions

Structural Transformation, Adaptability and City Economic Evolutions

Over the past few years, cities and city-regions have assumed growing prominence in discussions over economic growth, performance, and prosperity. Both geographers and economists point to the increasing concentration of economic activity and wealth creation in cities, and their crucial importance as the loci of national prosperity. But, as some studies demonstrate, not all cities have enjoyed economic success in recent years, and some evidence points to an increasing divergence in economic growth between cities, especially in the United States.

The exclusions of catastrophist biopolitics

The exclusions of catastrophist biopolitics

This project explores the social and geographical implications of governmental practices targeting the body as the site of threat and resilience in risk society.

History of Chambers of Commerce

History of Chambers of Commerce

This research by Professor Robert Bennett aims to give definitive historical analysis of chambers of commerce and other local business associations.

Local and regional economic development in Britain

Local and regional economic development in Britain

A series of ongoing projects on local and regional institutions. This includes assessing the UK Labour government's RDAs, LLSCs, Local government and Business Links; and since 2010 the UK Coalition government's abolition of RDAs, local government reforms, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Enterprise Zones. This has received major project grants from the Leverhulme Trust.

The Economic Geography of Money and Finance

The Economic Geography of Money and Finance

This research programme has been concerned with exploring the spatialities of financial systems, and constructing a new economic geography of money. This has a key underlying aim: to demonstrate that the spatial structure of the financial system is far from neutral in its effects, but rather influences the allocation or funds, capital and credit across regions and localities.

Evolutionary Economics and Economic Geography

Evolutionary Economics and Economic Geography

Over the last few years, an embryonic 'evolutionary turn' has begun to emerge in economic geography. This research explores the scope of and limits to such an 'evolutionary economic geography'. Specifically, how and in what ways can recent developments in evolutionary economics itself be applied to economic-geographic studies, and indeed used to construct a new 'evolutionary economic geography' as a distinct body of theoretical and empirical research for understanding how economic landscapes, and individual regional and local economies, evolve over time.

The Competitive Performance of Regions and Cities

The Competitive Performance of Regions and Cities

Recent years have seen a surge of academic and policy attention devoted to the notion of 'competitiveness'. At the same time, there has been increasing focus on regions and cities as the key loci of wealth creation and economic governance. In short, the economic performance of regions and cities has moved centre stage in academic and policy discussions. The theoretical and empirical study of regional and urban economic performance is the subject of this research.

Earlier projects