Reregulating a regional rustbelt: institutional fixes, entrepreneurial discourse, and thepolitics of representation'

Gordon MacLeod, Martin Russell Jones

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46 Citations (SciVal)


During the mid-to-late 1980s, a number of theoretical approaches were deployed to account for some major changes in the sociospatial form of capitalist development. One influential approach -- which drew loosely on French regulation theory -- chronicled a shift from Fordism to a post-Fordist flexible accumulation, which is characterised, in part, by the rise of 'new industrial spaces'. Such accounts were criticised for playing down the constitutive effects of social and political factors in energising such regional prosperity. As debates in the 1990s have sought to address this weakness, much research has demonstrated a greater readiness to address the social and institutional regulation of these new industrial spaces, and more recently, of old (rustbelt) industrial regions. In some respects, though, what we are witnessing is the replacement of a one-dimensional reading of regional transformation -- that based on production -- by an 'institutional turn', which is variously guided by some new directions in the regulation approach, networking theory, and institutional sociology. By fusing the recent work of Jessop and Jenson, the authors seek to deploy a discourse-theoretic regulation approach towards understanding some complex shifts in the regulatory fabric of Lowland Scotland -- an archetypal rustbelt region. However, in order to escape a drift towards a one-dimensional 'institutionalism', they revisit much (old) contextual ground in an attempt to simultaneously locate the region's political economic mechanisms of transformation and the accompanying 'politics of representation' amidst the contemporary transition. The authors conclude that within the United Kingdom, following the institutional possibilities opened up by the late 1990s reconstitution of national and regional governance, there is a real danger of lapsing into a 'soft institutionalism' if future analysis on regulation and governance fails to locate socioinstitutional forms within the broader dynamic of political and economic forces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-605
Number of pages31
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1999


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