Urban and Regional Political Economy Working Group

Aims

The aim of this group is to foster intellectual and political exchange and collaboration between researchers using a radical political economy approach to the study of localities of sub-national scale. ‘Localities’ here denotes scales from neighbourhood through village, town, city and rural district to region. We take it as obvious that society at these scales cannot be analysed separately from society at national and global scales. But there are important social relations and processes which are enacted in part within the local scale, and these relations and processes differ in major ways between localities, even localities within the same country. These locally-enacted and locally-distinct social processes will be a focus for the group’s work. But so too will be the relations, processes and structures which link localities with larger-scale territories. The group is interested in fostering work which highlights the internal relations between space – territory, distance, scale – and social processes, and the way in which social actors use space.

We are interested in bringing together researchers and research in both the Majority World and the imperialist countries. We wish to include work on diverse aspects of the political economy of localities, including –

  • the social processes and relations of the monetised ‘economy’, waged and unwaged work, the reproduction of people within homes and neighbourhoods using commodity consumption and public services, associated cultures of work and social life, popular collective organisations, and the interventions of the state; and
  • the distinct sites and spaces of industries, public and private services, domestic work, housing, transport, the built and natural environment, public space, and the state.

We are particularly interested in fostering work which crosses and links these aspects and draws out their internal relations.

Even before the global economic crisis, the majority of the world’s population faced severe, if differentiated, problems enacted and experienced at the local scale, and there have been a wealth of struggles organised at least partly at local scales. Since the crisis, these problems and the struggles against them have intensified. The intention of this working group is to analyse these local aspects and sites of exploitation and oppression, and contribute to the struggles against them.

Coordination of the WG

The coordinators of the WG are presently: Jamie Gough and Ozlem Celik, Department of Town and Regional Planning, Sheffield University, England. o.celik@shef.ac.ukjamie.gough@shef.ac.uk.

At the meeting of the WG in Istanbul in May 2011, we added to the coordinating group:-

  • We decided that it would be good to organise specific events directed primarily at graduate students and other new academics. John Sayas, Athens, is now the WG coordinator for students, and will be taking forward ideas on this. Contact him if you would like to contribute to this aspect of the group’s work.
  • We decided to have country/ world-regional coordinators of the WG. These can publicise the WG within their countries/regions, linking into ‘local’ academic and political networks, and could potentially organise ‘local’ meetings on urban and regional political economy. The initial volunteers are:-
    • Turkey: Hatice Kursuncu
    • Greece: John Sayas
    • Scandanavia and Britain: Dave Etherington

Please make contact via the Yahoo site if you would like to contribute to organising things within your country/region.

We welcome further offers to join the coordinating group, including people willing to coordinate particular aspects of the WG’s activities. We aim for a gender balance and a balance of people in the Majority World and the imperialist countries.

Initial Activities of the Group

Conference Sessions

The proto-working group organised a workshop on localities at the Historical Materialism conference in London in November 2009. We organised a workshop at the first IIPPE international conference in Crete in September 2010, and a very successful stream of five workshops with fifteen papers at the second IIPPE international conference in Istanbul in May 2011.

A conference sub-group is now organising an urban and regional stream for the next international IIPPE conference, which will be held in Paris on 5-8 July 2012. A call for papers will shortly be sent out. Please contact the organisers with offers of papers and any other ideas for the stream on parisiippeurban@yahoo.co.uk.

The Working Group’s Yahoo Group

The Yahoo Group is a list of members’ interests in the field of local political economy, and a place where people can place messages. We hope this will foster interchanges and collaborations.

If you want to be a member of the group, please send an e-mail to o.celik@sheffield.ac.uk with the subject field “Joining the IPPEE UR WG”, and giving your university affiliation in the text.

Other Activities

The coordinators would welcome suggestions for – and work to coordinate – other activities.