Love thy neighbourhood - rethinking the politics of scale and Walsall's struggle for neighbourhood democracy

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Despite its apparent irrelevance as a scale or space of sociocultural organisation, the neighbourhood is back on the political agenda. At an international level, the neighbourhood -- or, more specifically, the 'global neighbourhood' -- is being promoted as a moral space through which to manage the complex economic, political, and ecological problems of the planet. Mirroring this process at a national level, in the United Kingdom the neighbourhood has been rediscovered and now provides the parameters through which a range of antipoverty, welfare, and local democracy programmes are being delivered. In light of its contemporary political popularity, this paper presents a critical reanalysis of the concept of the neighbourhood. In particular, the analysis explores the ideological and political uses of the ideal of neighbourhood, and how these processes relate to a particular 'politics of scale'. In order to unpack the various politics of scales associated with the neighbourhood, the analysis combines theories of scale with Lefebvre's work on the production of space. Drawing on these theoretical insights and the case of neighbourhood politics in the town of Walsall in the United Kingdom, I explore the political narratives and practices through which the neighbourhood scale is produced and contested, and question the ability of neighbourhoods, as they are currently being constructed in the United Kingdom, to offer locally empowering scales of political and social organisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-300
Number of pages24
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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