'Worlds of justification’ in the politics and practices of urban regeneration

Crispian Fuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A considerable body of research has developed on processes of neoliberal urban
regeneration and gentrifi cation. On the one hand, there are many political economy accounts emphasising the role of economic capital in processes of urban change and gentrifi cation. On the other hand, there is a wealth of governmentality studies on the art of government that fail to explain how ungovernable subjects develop. Similarly, within gentrifi cation studies there are many accounts on the role of changing consumer lifestyles and defi ning gentrifi cation, but less concern with the governance processes between actors in urban regeneration and gentrifi cation. Yet such issues are of considerable importance
given the role of the state in urban regeneration and dependence on private capital. This paper utilises the French Pragmatist approach of Boltanski and Thévenot to examine a case study state-led gentrifi cation project. Boltanski and Thévenot argue that social coordination occurs by way of actors working through broader value-laden ‘worlds of justifi cation’ that underpin processes of argumentation and coordination. The examined case study is a deprived area within an English city where a major state-led gentrification programme has been introduced. The rationale for the programme is based on the assumption that reducing deprivation relies upon substantially increasing the number of
higher income earners. The paper concludes that market values have overridden broader civic values in the negotiation process, with this intensifying as the state internalised market crisis tendencies within the project. More broadly, there is a need for French Pragmatism to be more sensitive to the spatial processes of social coordination, which can be achieved through critical engagement with recent concepts of ‘assemblages’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-929
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning D
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

Bibliographical note

Fuller, C. (2012). The definitive, peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Environment and planning D, 30, 5, 913-929, 2012.


  • gentrifi cation
  • regeneration
  • market values
  • French pragmatism
  • worlds of justification


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