Social justice and the region: grassroots regional movements and the 'English Question'

Martin Russell Jones

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28 Citations (SciVal)


This paper is positioned within debates on the territorial restructuring of the national state and the emergence of regions as new spaces for instilling economic and social governance. It is argued that the rescaling of state capacities and competences associated with the programme of economic devolution in England—set within a broader context of state restructuring in the UK through constitutional change—is providing an emerging cultural and political territorial space in and through which grassroots social justice movements are attempting to gain popular support. The highly uneven and fragmented nature of English regional identity and interest-group formation is acknowledged and a distinction is drawn between state-driven and (top-down) functional regionalisation and (bottom-up) civil society regionalism to explore this. Discussion then focuses on how regionalisation in the East Midlands is being contested by the regionalists Devolve! (known from 1988-2000 by their former name Movement for Middle England). The paper shows how Devolve! has struggled to gain support and, as sole regional pressure group, is being drawn into the bargaining process, spearheaded by the central state, concerning how the regional process, particularly its 'territorial shape', could be defined. Reflections on the theory and practice of politics and spatiality in geography and especially the recent interest in relational space conclude the paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-189
Number of pages33
JournalSpace and Polity
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 02 Aug 2004


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