Sustainable Recovery?  Rebalancing, Growth, and the Space Economy - London, UK

Regional Studies Association Winter Conference 2014

Date and location

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Conference details

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Plenary Speakers 

Abstract Submission date: CLOSED
Full paper submission date:  6th October 2014

This conference provides a platform on which to address the new economic order and its spatial manifestations.  The world has seen a series of shifts in socio-economic relations over the past decade, which has picked up pace since the global financial crisis of 2008, particularly in relation to the complex inter-related processes of industrialisation, urbanisation, and regional and local development. Is the mediation between economic logic and political institutions leading to new patterns of economic activity at a local, regional, national and global level? 

Is it possible to talk again—as  the leading economic geographers and regional development theorists did in the late 1980s and early 1990s—about the periods (Fordism, Post-Fordism, After-Fordism), places (Silicon Valley, Route 128, Baden-Württemberg, the Rhone-Alpes etc) and pathways (flexible specialisation, flexible accumulation, agglomeration economies) of economic development? Replaying this argument—scholars at that time argued that the coupling between spatial Keynesianism and Atlantic Fordism was being undone and replaced by neoliberal social regulation.  They saw that this resulted in the disintegration of economic activity into new industrial/political spaces. In turn, these processes were buttressed by changing modes of state intervention—welfare state restructuring, the shift from redistributive regional policy and planning to indigenous economic development, and the promotion of flexible labour market policy and the rebalancing of social relations.  Where are we now on these trajectories?  What have their impacts been on regional and local economies?       

The 21st Century has been an era of devolution, predicated on ‘realising’ place-based assets and assembling these as the building-blocks of agglomeration for a new brand of local and regional economic development. On the one hand, political devolution has happened through constitutional change (see Spain and current events in Scotland), and on the other hand, economic devolution has occurred through the explosion of state rescaling.  City-regions are the outlet for some of this thinking. In the context of urban and regional austerity, post-crisis, politicians and policy-makers argue this is a more ‘balanced’ approach to growth than past interventions.  Crisis in the Eurozone though is having highly differentiated impacts, with some places benefiting, while others have seen a worsening of problems. These outcomes appear complex, and relatively unpredictable, challenging prevailing narratives of places and their future.  This begs the question as to whether recovery is sustainable and/or is spatially selective growth occurring at a cost?

This Regional Studies Association Winter Conference 2014 presents a timely opportunity to discuss these issues, to establish the need and nature of future research imperatives, and to address the concerns and challenges confronting policymakers and practitioners.  The conference organisers are keen to attract papers and sessions which address a broad research and policy agenda, including contributions from any discipline which can offer relevant insights associated with the remaking of the world space economy and its shaping of our cities and regions. Papers which are collaborative, international or multi-disciplinary are especially welcome:

Plenary Speakers 

Thursday 27th November, 2014
Opening Plenary Session
Professor Ron Martin, University of Cambridge, UK
Professor Philip McCann, University of Groningen, The Netherlands 

Panel Session 1: Chair, Professor Martin Jones, University of Sheffield, UK
Professor Gillian Bristow, Cardiff University, UK
Professor Henry Overman, London School of Economics, UK
Professor Nancey Green Leigh, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
Professor Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, London School of Economics, UK
Professor Frank Eckardt, Bauhaus University, Weimar, GERMANY

Friday 28th November, 2014

Panel Session 2 'Policy Intervention': Chair, Professor Peter Tyler, University of Cambridge, UK
Professor Andy Pike, Newcastle University, UK
Professor Ron Martin, University of Cambridge, UK 

Jacqui Ward, Deputy Director of Cities and Local Growth Unit, Department for Buisness, Innovation and Skills, UK
Richard Kenny, Head of Strategic Development, Birmingham City Council, UK
Andrew Carter, Center for Cities, UK
David Marlow, Third Life Economics, UK 

In the context of austerity and the run up to the General Election in 2015, spatial economic policy is at a crossroads. An influential view has gained ground. Rather than targeting interventions on specific kinds of places, it asserts that any policy should instead be space-neutral and not favour particular places over others, focus upon poor people not poor places and work with the grain to reinforce the substance and direction of market processes, agglomeration economies and increasing returns. Yet this perspective has received relatively little critical scrutiny and discussion of its implications for any changes in approach in the course of the political cycle.

Working with the Regional Studies Association (RSA), Ben Gardiner, Ron Martin, Peter Tyler and Andy Pike have put together a policy intervention to engage with this current debate on spatial economic policy and identify some ways forward. The policy intervention will be launched at the RSA’s Winter Conference, 27-28th November 2014.

Closing Plenary Session:
Dr Amy Glasmeier, MIT, USA
Professor Michael Storper, London School of Economics, UK, Sciences-Po, France and UCLA, USA

Category Member Non-Member
Individual and Corporate £215.00 £265.00
Associate £165.00 £215.00
Early Career  £155.00 £205.00
Student  £125.00 £175.00 

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Conference organisers

Academic Organisers
Professor Martin Jones, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, UK  
Dr Pedro Marques, Cardiff University, UK

RSA Organiser: Elizabeth Mitchell 

Please submit offers of papers in the form of 400 - 500 word abstracts (text only, no pictures, graphs or tables) through the Regional Studies Association on-line conference portal by Monday 1st September 2014. A full paper will be required 6th October 2014 at the latest, up to 1500 words in length, including pictures, graphs, tables etc. Further submission details can be found here.

Proposals will be considered by the Conference Programme Committee against the criteria of originality and interest, subject balance and geographical spread. 

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