The possibilities and limits of political contestation in times of ‘urban austerity’

Crispian Fuller*, Karen West

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper seeks to provide a conceptual framework in which to examine the social practices of contemporary austerity programmes in urban areas, including how these relate to different conceptions of crisis. Of current theoretical interest is the apparent ease with which these austerity measures have been accepted by urban governing agents. In order to advance these understandings we follow the recent post-structuralist discourse theory ‘logics’ approach of Glynos and Howarth (2007), focusing on the relationship between hegemony, political and social logics, and the subject whose identificatory practices are key to understanding the form, nature and stability of discursive settlements. In such thinking it is not only the formation of discourses and the mobilisation of rhetoric that are of interest, but also the manner in which the subjects of austerity identify with these. Through such an approach we examine the case of the regeneration/economic development and planning policy area in the city government of Birmingham (UK). In conclusion, we argue that the logics approach is a useful framework through which to examine how austerity has been uncontested in a city government, and the dynamics of acquiescence in relation to broader hegemonic discursive formations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2087-2106
Number of pages20
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number9
Early online date13 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • urban
  • austerity
  • hegemony
  • logics
  • fantasy


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