Urban and Regional Political Economy Working Group


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: Özlem Celik, HELSUS and Development Studies Division, Helsinki University, ozlem.celik@helsinki.fi , Angus McNelly, School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London, a.mcnelly@qmul.ac.uk ,  and Jamie Gough, Department of Town and Regional Planning, Sheffield University, England, jamie.gough@shef.ac.uk.

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 Urban and Regional Working Group of the IIPPE welcomes submissions for IIPPE conferences  on any aspect of the political economy of localities and regions (sub-national territories), both rural and urban, and both Majority and Minority Worlds.  Papers may be either purely theoretical or theorised empirically-based studies.  We seek papers both on processes/ relations within localities and regions and on processes/ relations linking these scales to national and international scales.  Possible fields include:-

* the organisation of the waged economy, labour power and capital-labour relations in production within and between localities;

* social reproduction within localities, including domestic work, commodity consumption, and local private and public services;

* the interactions between production and social reproduction within localities, and the production of class, gender and racial/ethnic relations and of working class cultures between these two spheres;

* construction of, and investment in, the built environment, and markets in the accumulated stock of buildings, including both commercial premises, housing and physical infrastructures;

* impacts of money capital (finance) on the above processes, and vice versa;

* struggles of the working class and social movements around the above issues.

Papers should be within Marxist or critical political-economy, and approach the issues from the point of view of working class, poor peasants and oppressed people. 

Other Activities

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