Skip to main content

GLOBAL REMUNICIPALISATION AND THE POST-NEOLIBERAL TURN

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GLOBALMUN (GLOBAL REMUNICIPALISATION AND THE POST-NEOLIBERAL TURN)

Reporting period: 2020-07-01 to 2021-12-31

The project is researching the phenomenon of remunicipalisation: a global trend on all continents for sub-national governments at local and regional scales to take formerly privatised assets back into public ownerhsip and control. Since 2000, there have been over 1500 cases recorded. Remunicipalisations are undertaken following the failure or poor performance of privatised operations and the project is exploring how this trend is situated within broader debates about the movement away from neoliberal forms of economic governance of which privatisation has been a key element.

An important issue both for debates around urban governance and public policy more generally is whether these new forms of public ownership and the social relations created through them challenge the individualism and consumerism at the heart of neoliberal urbanism to create more collective forms of
identity, solidarity and social empowerment. How far can remunicipalisation initiatives become the vehicle for more radical, participatory and empowering forms of democracy through new forms of state and public institution? What governance structures exist in remunicipalised companies and what is the extent of
democratic participation? How is the public represented through remunicipal organisations? These are major issues for wider society and democracy as a whole that need investigation.

The overarching aim of the research is to critically interrogate remunicipalisation and its implications for an emergent post-neoliberal urbanism. To address this aim it has three objectives:
1. to develop a typology and conceptualisation of remunicipalisation that captures its diverse spatial, political and social forms;
2. to assess whether it leads to more progressive forms of state and public action;
3. to critically evaluate the democratic potential of the new forms of municipal public ownership that are being created.

The research employs a multi-method transnational comparative analysis over five years, which involves an extensive global survey element, a three-country comparative analysis (Argentina, Germany, US), and a multi-site ethnographic phase of individual remunicipalisation case studies in each country.
The project has proceeded well despite the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic in the UK covering the period March 2020 - June 2021.

Work performed and completed includes:
1. the recruitment of the project team including two postdoctoral RAs and three PhD students (the final one starting in September 2021);
2. completion of the relevant data management and ethics procedures and submitted all the relevant deliverables.
3. Establishing an online survey with data collection ongoing (see here: https://glasgowresearch.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/global-remunicipalisation) completing the literature review and most of the global mapping process.

Additionally, because of the impact of the Pandemic and the inability to travel to do fieldwork in two of our three case study countries, we have focused on doing more online research and secondary data gathering. The project team were also successful in securing extra funding from the ESRC Impact Acceleration fund (alongside partner organisation TNI) to establish a global database of remuncipalisation cases. See: https://publicfutures.org/. Additionally, a separate online survey of Latin American deprivatisation cases has been designed in partnership with CLACSO (Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales y el Equipo de Investigación),the key research network for social science academics across Latin America.

Key results so far have been:
(i) the undertaking of a global mapping exercise,
(ii) an initial conceptual paper published in the journal Antipode setting out our thereotical framework (see: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/anti.12761).
(iii) a paper published jointly by the three PhD students in a peer reviewed journal: (https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/stair/stair/2021/00000016/00000002/art00012).
(iv) two further papers submitted to international journals which are under review.
(v) an article published in the journal Soundings engaging with debates on New Municipalism.
(vi) an online project webinar of over 200 attendees in February 2021.
(vii) various conference papers presented by team members including the postgraduate students.
(viii) two guest lectures by the PI in Cambridge (January 2020) and Vienna (April 2021).
(i) An initial conceptual paper - published in Antipode - has development some important and novel conceptual thinking, developing a spatialised conjunctural perspective on remunicipalism and neoliberalism through critical engagement with the work of Stuart Hall, Antonio Gramsci, and recent geographical scholarship on political economy transitions.

(ii) Our research in Germany is producing some innovative findings around the hybrid ways in which neoliberalism intersects with other non-market driven forms of social regulation that has been written up for a submitted publication.

(iii) Our research in Latin America is producing new insights from the global south the question some of the assumptions of western centric notions of new municipalism.

(iv) our global database of remunicipalisation/de-privatisation cases is a unique dataset in cataloguing the phenomenon.