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City government in an age of austerity: discursive institutions and critique

Fuller, Crispian 2017. City government in an age of austerity: discursive institutions and critique. Environment and Planning A 49 (4) , pp. 745-766. 10.1177/0308518X16684139

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Abstract

Austerity is an increasingly important feature of urban society in Western countries, both as a site interwoven with the crisis tendencies of capitalism and as spaces mitigating austerity programmes instigated by nation states. Cities have therefore become key spaces in the mediation of ‘austerity urbanism’, but where such processes involve deliberation, making the production of consensus highly problematic. Such tendencies require far greater intellectual sensitivity towards the practices of agents as they seek to enact social control and coordination, as well as subordinate resistance and critique. ‘Pragmatist Sociology’ is utilised in this paper to examine the construction and deployment of discursive institutions seeking to control the behaviour of actors, including reducing critique, with the intention of legitimising austerity programmes. Such discursive institutions establish semantic links between the discursive aims of those seeking to control and the pragmatics of the everyday lives of those subject to such institutions. The paper seeks to examine, first, through a case study of an English city, how key decision-makers construct discursive institutions in the implementation of austerity and subordination of resistance and, second, the actual practices of resisting austerity. In conclusion, the paper finds that austerity governance is characterised by discursive austerity institutions based on market and bureaucratic values, where large-scale critique has been marginalised, resulting in minor forms of critique in the everyday, and compounded by constant efforts at the reconfirmation of discursive institutions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0308-518X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 December 2016
Date of Acceptance: 23 November 2016
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2017 10:41
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/96556

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