Whatever Happened to Councillors? Problematising the Deficiency Narrative in English Local Politics

Date

2019-03-29

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Sage

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

Calls for councillors to change are nothing new, even from staunch defenders of local democracy. But one critical question has been sidestepped: Why have councillors been persistently constructed as a ‘problem’ for local government? This paper draws upon Foucault to detect the emergence and sedimentation of an overriding problematisation of councillors. Our genealogical analysis of a range of public commissions and inquiries, policy documents and academic discourses reveals a ‘deficiency narrative’, forged during the managerialist turn in the 1960s and subsequently reframed in the 1990s and 2000s through the lens of community leadership. We show that the exclusions and methodological limits of this imaginary blinker studies of councillors, leaving an unhelpfully normative stance within local government studies. Such deficits also lead to a ‘smoothing out’ of the complexity of local politics, downplay local dynamics and political work, and miss important insights into the practices of local democracy.

Description

The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.

Keywords

councillors, problematisation, local government, managerialism, community leadership

Citation

Barnett, N., Griggs, S., and Howarth, D. (forthcoming) Whatever Happened to Councillors? Problematising the Deficiency Narrative in English Local Politics, Political Studies, 67 (3), pp. 775-794

Rights

Research Institute

Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC)
Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA)