The Power of Now: Re-imagining the Future of Local Government Through Studies of Actually Existing Practice
This article contends that the study of UK local government, its institutions and actors, is an increasingly ‘niche’ pursuit. We argue that the field is caught in a common sense narrative that plays off local government institutional decline against widespread belief in the future democratic and progressive value of the council-to-come. Identifying persistent appeals to such deficiency narratives, we thus suggest that ‘actually existing’ local government is reduced to the site of critical shortcomings in the present, while its agency is deferred to a future when the council has become what it is not. Such logics, we conclude, reach their height in recent studies of local austerity governance. In response, we call for a turn to an ethos of municipal pragmatism that grounds inquiry in ‘real world’ problems, while developing richer or thicker understandings of the agency of local government that can generate alternative visions grounded in its everyday work.
The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version
Citation : Barnett, N., Griggs, S. and Sullivan, H. (2020) The Power of Now: Re-imagining the Future of Local Government Through Studies of 'Actually Existing' Practice, Local Government Studies, forthcoming.
Research Institute : Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC)
Peer Reviewed : Yes