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Localism, governmentality and failing technologies: the case of neighbourhood planning in England

Wargent, M. ORCID: (2021) Localism, governmentality and failing technologies: the case of neighbourhood planning in England. Territory, Politics, Governance, 9 (4). pp. 571-591. ISSN 2162-268X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/21622671.2020.1737209


This paper analyses the localism agenda pursued in the UK since 2010 through the lens of governmentality. It examines how the state has deployed spatially based technologies of government predicated on particular political rationalities of localism that seek to orchestrate the ‘conduct of conduct’. The paper combats two oversights within the governmentality literature: first, the tendency to focus on the abstract, neglecting the messiness of actual attempts to govern; and second, the paucity of empirical studies of governmental technologies that fall short of realigning subjects’ agency towards governmental goals – despite a long-standing recognition of the incomplete and often contradictory nature of governmental rationalities. Through an empirical exploration of local actors’ experiences of Neighbourhood Planning – a community-led, land-use-planning initiative – this paper addresses these shortcomings by demonstrating how fundamental misconceptions contained within contemporary political rationalities have undermined efforts to realign community agency toward housing delivery. In concluding, it is argued that the tensions and fault-lines found within these rationalities go some way to explaining the emergence of ‘interstitial spaces of hope’ for genuine community agency within the confines of gradually tightening governmentalities.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Real Estate and Planning
ID Code:89001


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