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Real Estate and Planning lunchtime seminar: The Local State of Housing: Deepening Entrepreneurial Governance and The Place of Politics and Publics
Emma Ormerod Research Associate Durham University
Housing is political, and its relation to the local state is undergoing a monumental transition. This research charts the journey of a neighbourhood in Gateshead, North East England, through housing regeneration; focusing on a joint venture partnership that has grown from a mired central state regeneration initiative, Housing Market Renewal. It foregrounds the local state as an increasingly relevant conceptual and analytical frame through which to reveal contemporary transformations in local governing. Through an in-depth examination of the relations between new and old state actors, local politics and multiple publics, we can see who is governing and who matters.
In positioning housing as central to a contemporary capitalist political economy, housing therefore becomes a key optic through which to understand the deepening of entrepreneurial governance under austerity localism. The local state in Gateshead is reconstructing the housing market and harnessing private finance. It has become a housing developer in its own right through a complex and opaque form of financialization. Despite an entrenched marketized logic, however, the local state is not simply a unified or monolithic structure. It consists of both structures and relations that are in constant struggle as it tentatively negotiates the current and unstable mode of local governance. Seeing the state as a fragmented, malleable and permeable set of relations reveals the various forms of power, sources of pressure and politics within and beyond it. As the local state moves increasingly away from previous processes of public engagement and actively conceals its role in housing development, political power is being channelled into the hands of new state actors. Whilst this is undoubtedly de-democratising, a close examination of social relations reveals the potential to disrupt, or re-politicise such processes, which can offer hope to the place of politics and publics.