Local Governance Research Centre events and seminars

On 7-8 September 2021, the LGRC will host the prestigious Public Administration Committee (PAC) Conference - 'How Place Matters? Leadership, Governance and Public Administration'. All details can be found at this link


The LGRC 2019 seminar series will include the following speakers/presentations

1. Dr Peter Eckersley (Nottingham Trent University)

8 May 2019, 3-5pm, Room HU3.96

Seminar co-organised with CURA

Power and Capacity in Urban Climate Governance

This presentation, which draws on the findings of a monograph published in 2018, introduces a new framework to help understand how different systems of government shape policymaking arrangements at the municipal level. By applying the framework to climate governance in three sectors (climate change strategy, planning and each council’s own corporate activities), it will show how low levels of resource interdependence between central and local government in England, exemplified by austerity funding cuts, mean that Newcastle Council has to rely heavily on other horizontal actors to achieve its climate objectives. In contrast, Gelsenkirchen Council receives substantial support from higher tiers of government, which gives it greater control over policymaking within the locality.

Ultimately, therefore, it highlights how ‘vertical’ intergovernmental relationships influence ‘horizontal’ interactions between municipalities and other local actors, and ultimately shape policy objectives and outcomes at the local level. It also reveals how urban policymaking arrangements in both Germany and England are evolving, as municipal governments seek to increase their capacity to address challenging policy problems whilst facing resource constraints.

2. Martin Quinn (University of Leicester)

30 May 2019, 3-5pm, HU2.30

Increasing Business and Community Engagement with Local Government: Creating a Social Contract at the Sub-National Tier

This seminar outlines some of the emerging results from a research project funded by the Regional Studies Association Early Careers Grant Scheme. Social contact theory is used to examine local government and local economic development initiatives aimed at engaging with both Business and local communities.

The research explores what local government can do to attract the involvement of local business in their economic development work. Policy makers frequently talk of ‘business led policy’ and ‘business engagement’ without putting any flesh on what we mean by engagement, what forms this takes, and, what roles are actually available, and desired, by business in the policy arena. In this talk I will discuss the successes and failures of business engagements in Leicester and Leicestershire and suggest a reworking of the classic social contact model of John Locke for business engagement in the twenty-first century.

Dr Martin Quinn is Lecturer in Regional Development in the School of Business, Leicester University. His research interests focus on regional development and public policy, especially in the context of devolution to the regional and local tiers in England. Martin is particularly interested in the ways in which second tier cities (broadly defined) experience the devolution process and how the public and private sectors come together to form governance networks. He has developed work examining devolution and governance through the lens of Social Contract Theory and this work has been funded in part by a grant from the Regional Studies Association. 


3. Dr Hannah Jones (University of Warwick)

10 October 2019, 3-5pm (Title tbc, abstract to follow)

This seminar will draw on Hannah’s new book (forthcoming with ZED) “Violent Ignorance: confronting migration control and racism”. Hannah will focus on her final chapter in the book, where she develops a manifesto through which “anger at injustice is recognised and harnessed as a force for change” including propositions at individual, institutional, and governmental level – with a link to the local dimension.
Final title and abstract TBC nearer the time of the seminar.

LGRC events and workshops

Urban Informality: Linking informal working practices with the governance of everyday life

An International Workshop organized by Valeria Guarneros-Meza and Adam Fishwick, and supported by the LGRC, CURA & POWI, De Montfort University, Leicester, 27 June 2019

Urban informality, although a contested concept, has been considered relevant by interdisciplinary approaches to studying urban environments as it has helped to unpick urban transitions, change and resilience in periods of economic, political and social crises, while also helping to challenge urban injustices (Boudreau and Davis, 2016; Jaglin, 2016; Marx and Kelling 2017; Scott, 2012, Tonkiss, 2013).

Urban environments provide dynamic sites for understanding the ways in which the state – intentionally or otherwise – produces and reproduces the informal practices enacted by individuals and communities. The state has played an important role in manufacturing forms of urban informality, in housing, planning, infrastructure and the other areas of urban life, as well as in managing, containing or co-opting the everyday practices of local populations, albeit in complex and contradictory ways (Roy 2005; Bénit-Gbaffou 2018). Similarly, informal work plays a central role in urban political economies across cities in the Global South and, increasingly, Global North. This cuts across formal labour markets, contributing to capital accumulation as a cheap and disposable source of labour power, with the state complicit in its spread and consolidation in complex and contradictory ways (Breman and van der Linden 2014; Bernards 2018). Informal work provides a means of survival for poorer communities, particularly in the absence and decline of social provision (Standing 2011), but, more importantly, it also engenders new dynamics of class formation, with opportunities for new forms of collective organisation (Atzeni and Ness 2016; Atzeni 2016).

This workshop will seek to trace the possible relationships between these dynamics of informality. It will explore relations between longstanding community practices of survival beyond (but without excluding) the formal institutions of the state, the persistence and transformation of informal economies and their impact on work, class formation and collective organisation, and the modes of local governance that continually (re)emerge to manage and respond to these features of urban informality. The aim of the workshop is to explore the various means by which individuals and communities navigate complex formations of urban informality. Contributions will identify configurations of hybrid practices in informal modes of work and life and/or the informal practices and institutions that emerge in interactions between ordinary citizens, local authorities and grassroots forms of entrepreneurship.

Potential contributions should address one or more of the following questions:

(1) How do individuals and communities organise their daily lives to survive (or to thrive) in these settings of urban informality?

(2) How far do individuals and communities construct alternative social, political, and economic organisations to fill gaps left by the withdrawal of formal institutions?

(3) How far are these informal ‘alternatives’, intentionally or not, supported by state institutions and actors?

(4) What connections can be made between the distinctive areas of urban informality at work, in everyday life and their associated forms of governance?

(5) To what extent does urban informality, at the intersections of work, community and life, create identities that help overcome economic, political or social crises?

Confirmed speakers: Maurizio Atzeni (CEIL-CONICET), Colin Marx (UCL Bartlett), Vivien Lowndes (INLOGOV, Birmingham)

If you wish to participate, please send 150-word abstracts to Adam Fishwick (adam.fishwick@dmu.ac.uk) and Valeria Guarneros-Meza (valeria.guarneros@dmu.ac.uk) by 29 March 2019. 

Past seminars and events

LGRC inaugural lecture

The Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC) Inaugural Annual Lecture was held on 31 January 2019. This will become an annual forum to discuss key issues in local governance, government and politics for academics, policy-makers and practitioners.

The LGRC Inaugural Lecture was delivered by Professor Jane Wills (University of Exeter), and explored the shifting geography of English statecraft over the last 500 years, focusing on the challenges encountered in recent efforts to decentralise, devolve and localise political decision making. Jane used the concept of the geo-constitution to expose the importance of having the institutional and social infrastructure required to underpin the localisation of political power. Building on work already published in Locating Localism: Statecraft, Citizenship and Democracy (2016, Policy Press), the lecture included new research conducted to explore the process and impact of asset transfer to a number of Cornish town councils. This exposes the importance of mundane facilities such as parks, roundabouts and toilets to the public, and the role of these assets in (re)empowering a rescaled local government.

The lecture was followed by responses from two prestigious speakers: Dr Sarah Longlands (Director, IPPR North) and Mark Sandford (House of Commons Library). The event attracted a very large audience and provided a forum to critically reflect on the politics and practice of localism, the prospects and challenges of devolution and the future of local government.

LGRC opening research seminar

This seminar, opening our new 2019 series, was held on 7 March, and was delivered by a prestigious speaker: Professor Martin Jones (Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Human Geography, Staffordshire University)

The seminar, entitled Cities and Regions in Crisis: The Political Economy of Subnational Economic Development, drew on Martin’s latest book (published by Edward Elgar in 2019 on the same title)

Offering a geographical political economy analysis, Martin explored the mechanisms, institutions, and spaces of subnational economic development in England. He examined how policy-makers frame problems and offer intervention solutions in different cities and regions. Drawing on different approaches to state intervention, neoliberalism, crisis and contradiction theories, and notions of depoliticisation, the seminar contextualised and explained policy failure and how it is impacted by a churning flux surrounding economic development. With constant changes to legislation, institutional initiatives, and ministerial responsibility, local and regional economic development is shown to be at a critical crossroads. Its crises are never really solved, only moved around.  In the context of Brexit and the revenge of the regions, Martin suggested we need to look back, to go forward.