Archive for the 'Environment and sustainability' Category

Transforming post-industrial cities: Anne Power on the impact of her book

In our next post on impact for Academic Book Week, Anne Power talks about how her book, Cities for a small continent has had international impact, uncovering the hope and opportunity to be found in ‘post-industrial’ cities.

anne-power

Anne Power

Cities for a small continent traces the fate of leading industrial cities in Europe and the US over ten years; 2006-2016. The collapse of major industries – coal, steel, ship-building, textiles, and machinery – across huge swathes of European and North American city regions drove extreme job losses, population decline and disinvestment.

The dramatic experience of deindustrialisation was particularly acute in Europe, the old, crowded, city-loving and war torn continent. As a result, city and regional governments, national leaders and the European Union all came together to form a City Reformers Group, based at the London School of Economics, to help our research team uncover what was happening to people stranded by unemployment, decay and economic turmoil. Were they in fact recovering as they claimed?

sheffield

Sheffield

Seven leading ex-industrial cities in six countries provided us with solid, grounded evidence, hosted workshops within their cities and organised visits to show us the devastation and dereliction, and to showcase their recovery efforts.

The cities most directly involved are: Sheffield, Belfast, Lille, Saint-Etienne, Leipzig, Bremen, Torino and Bilbao. This dynamic interchange at city level gives Cities for a small continent an immediacy and insight that would have been impossible without the direct participation of the cities and national governments.

Continue reading ‘Transforming post-industrial cities: Anne Power on the impact of her book’

Where you live can kill you

Clare Bambra’s book Health Divides: where you live can kill you, published by Policy Press today reveals shocking facts about the social, environmental, economic and political causes of these health inequalities. In today’s guest blog Bambra shares her insights on how location really is a matter of life and death…

Clare Bambra

Clare Bambra

In 1842, the English social reformer Edwin Chadwick documented a 30-year discrepancy between the life expectancy of men in the poorest social classes and the gentry.

He also found a North-South health divide with people from all social classes faring better in the rural South than in the industrial North.

Today, these inequalities persist.People in the most affluent areas of the United Kingdom, such as Kensington and Chelsea, can expect to live 14 years longer than that those in the poorest areas, such as Glasgow or Blackpool.

Men and women in the North of England will, on average die 2 years earlier than those in the South. Scottish people also suffer a health penalty with the highest mortality rates in Western Europe. Continue reading ‘Where you live can kill you’

Why Cameron’s housing policy will make the UK more spatially unequal

Today’s guest post by Peter Matthews, co-author of After urban regeneration: Communities, policy and place, was written in response to David Cameron’s announced plan to demolish England’s poorest council estates.

This article, originally titled ‘ABI n* – return of the ABI’ was first published on the blog Urban policy and practice on Monday 11th January 2016.

Peter MatthewsI did my doctoral research on area-based initiatives, or ABIs. Even when I was doing the research the writing was on the wall for them.

The focus of my research had been the former Scottish Executive Community Regeneration Fund administered through Single Outcome Agreements. This ceased to be just as I was going into the field following the first SNP victory in 2007, so it ended up being about the “ending” of meaningful regenerationfor residents.

Following the 2010 election and the coalition government it looked like any form of regeneration was off the cards under the excuse of “austerity”. I’ve co-edited a book – After Urban Regeneration – that argues this very point. My research had turned to broader questions of inequality in our cities, particularly what the increasing focus on community engagement and involvement in service delivery might mean for inequalities in service delivery. Continue reading ‘Why Cameron’s housing policy will make the UK more spatially unequal’

Free extract: After urban regeneration by Dave O’Brien and Peter Matthews

After urban regeneration by Dave O’Brien and Peter Matthews publishes today and to celebrate we’re making the book’s Introduction free to access. So if you’re waiting for your pre-ordered copy to arrive or simply interested to find out more, read on…

Peter Matthews

Peter Matthews

Dr Dave O'Brien

Dave O’Brien

This edited collection has emerged from studies funded through the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC’s) ‘Connected Communities’ programme.

The first book to publish in the Connected Communities book series, it uses the evidence and knowledge created by a range of projects to explore two theses: first, that the UK, and England in particular, has now entered a ‘post-regeneration era’; and, second, that new relationships are being developed between academics, universities and ‘communities’, producing new kinds of knowledge.

Download the pdf of the full Introduction here.

Dr. Dave O’Brien is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Policy, at ICCE, Goldsmiths College, University of London. He hosts the New Books In Critical Theory podcast.

Dr. Peter Matthews is Lecturer in Social Policy at SASS, University of Stirling. He publishes widely in urban studies, planning, social policy and housing.

After urban regeneration [FC]After urban regeneration is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

So, whose land is our land?

In today’s guest post Peter Hetherington, author of Whose Land is our Land?, explains why he believes reform of land ownership is necessary to mitigate the approaching challenges posed for food, energy and housing by climate change.

Peter HetheringtonPeople often assume that those like me who advocate land reform, no matter how minimal, must be on one side of the political fence.

Calling for measures to clamp down on speculation driven by tax avoidance seems to only reinforce a belief by some that us moderates are quasi‐revolutionaries conspiring to end ownership as the establishment knows it – be they the old landed class or the newer rich seeking to offload spare millions.

Spiralling farm land prices

So it was, when I appeared on BBC Radio’s Today programme at the end of August, I suggested (sensibly, I thought) that spiralling farm land prices are serving the country badly and was met with a hostile ‘back to the old interventionist days’ response by a spokesman for the Country Land and Business Association (which has morphed from the Country Landowners’ Association but is still known as the ‘CLA’.)

Of course the spokesman was right to suggest that of the – say – 100,000‐plus acres of agricultural land sold annually in England only a small proportion involves the super rich seeking a safe, recession‐proof haven for their spare millions.

“…these new rich are driving up prices…making it even more difficult for young aspirants to get on the farming ladder”

However prices, according to land agents Savills, have risen by a staggering 277% in a decade, making agricultural land a much safer investment bet than prime central London property and gold. One driver is that agricultural land offers generous breaks on inheritance and capital gains tax: it is exempt from the former after two years, for instance, if it is actively farmed.

But the point is this: these new rich are driving up prices in the whole market, distorting prices and making it even more difficult for young aspirants – there are plenty of them ‐ to
get on the farming ladder.

Ownership

I’ve been investigating issues around this land of ours for my book, ‘Whose Land is Our Land’. I’ve explored ownership and the old, landed rich through to the challenges of farming – with self‐sufficiency in the foods we are capable of growing falling when it could (and should) be rising.

I’ve looked at issues such as housing the nation, in the face of a ‘shadow’ unregistered market in which potential building land is being effectively rationed.

I’ve asked searching questions about our ill‐preparedness for addressing rising sea levels, induced by climate change, in our most productive farming area, the east of England. Various agencies, including the National Audit Office, warn that we face tough choices: either raising our flood defence investment, or abandoning big tracts of land.

“…public or charitable ownership equals ‘good’…is a gross over‐simplification”

One advantage of coming to this issue as a journalist – let’s be blunt, a ‘hack’ – and not as an academic is that, after interviewing scores of people (individual and institutional landowners, farmers, tenants, politicians) pre‐conceived ideas sometimes go to the wall.

Thus, public or charitable ownership equals ‘good’ and private ownership equals ‘bad’ is a gross over‐simplification. It so happens that the second largest landowner (and largest tenant farming landlord) , the National Trust, has been embroiled in a dispute with its tenants (and the Tenant the Farmers’ Association) more associated with private landlordism. There are, in short, good, bad, indifferent owners in all camps.

Ownership, in short, is no determinant of either progressive land use or tenure. So the good private landlord, progressively farming, has to be balanced against another owner who assumes that what is beneficial for the family firm is automatically good for the surrounding community. Generalisation can be dangerous.

Modest reform

Inevitably as a messenger, rather than a polemicist – and not a farming journalist – I have naturally relied on the help and guidance of others. Philip Lowe, professor of rural economy at Newcastle University, proved invaluable. His argument for modest reform, involving farmers and landowners abiding by a charter setting out rights and responsibilities to ensure the better use of all land proved compelling – particular after one expert in Norfolk (farmer of the year in 2014) spoke of his concern about slack practices on land farmed by contractors on behalf of the new rich.

Lowe’s other point is that farmers in receipt of generous rural payments, courtesy of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy – overall delivering £2‐3 billions in subsidies annually in Britain – should be obliged to sign up to basic principles of responsible land management “specifying responsibilities to maintain the land in their care.”

And, so, back to tax.

“..we should be adapting to…the impact of climate change on that most basic resource: our land…”

On the basis of my investigations I believe that we are approaching a collision of extremes ‐ increasing demand for food, energy, water and housing – when we should be adapting to, and hopefully mitigating, the impact of climate change on that most basic resource: our land.

Sadly, our approach as a nation, through successive governments, is piecemeal and short term. In truth, England needs an active land policy to address feeding, watering and housing the nation.

In November I’m off to the Scottish Parliament, for an informal event based on my book, facilitated by the chair of its rural affairs committee. In Scotland reform is high on the Scottish Government’s agenda. It wants the power to intervene if the scale of ownership, and the conduct of a landowner, is seen as a “barrier to sustainable development.” And in England? I’ve just been to the annual conference of the governing party to try to find out.

Whose land is our land [FC]Whose land is our land? is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

How have attitudes changed in the last five years towards asylum and migration?

Five years ago, based upon more than two decades of research with people seeking asylum, Maggie O’Neill wrote Asylum Migration and Community. In today’s blog post O’Neill reviews, in light of the reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis, how little has changed in terms of attitudes and approaches towards asylum despite the evidence of what can be achieved through the use of participatory action research, visual research/the image and creativity.


MONeill2“What is the legal way to immigrate? Why don’t they give me this option? I am illegal because there is no legal route.” (Matthias Kispert , 2015, ‘No More Beyond‘)

Jeremy Corbyn’s acceptance speech as leader of the Labour party on Saturday 12th September connected for me, with much research and scholarly work on the current asylum-migration crisis. With shades of Zygmun Bauman’s (2004) use of ‘negative’ or ‘uneven’ globalization, Corbyn stated that going to war creates problems for humanity and we not only need peace but we need to recognise we cannot go on like this with grotesque levels of global inequality; that the richer governments must step up to the plate; and that people should not end up in refugee camps instead of contributing to the good of all.

Corbyn’s approach and commitment to welcoming refugees to the UK and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel’s in Germany, is a loud and clear message mirrored in the vigils and demonstrations across western Europe calling for refugees to be allowed in and for open borders.

Yet at one and the same time Hungary has erected a 4m high fence along its border with Serbia, the Hungarian police are described as treating migrants like animals (the Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has drawn parallels between Hungary’s treatment of refugees and Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews) and the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia are so far refusing to take any of the migrants; and counter vigils and protests are also taking place across Europe.

Beyond borders?
The movement of people across borders is a key defining feature of the twentieth and twenty first century (as it has been, to a lesser degree ,throughout recorded history). It is now five years since I published Asylum Migration and Community (Policy press) and yet the book could have been published yesterday, so little has changed.

Based upon more than two decades of research with people seeking asylum  funded by the AHRB and AHRC I argued that migration in the context of ‘negative’ or ‘uneven’  globalisation is on the increase;  that increasingly restrictive asylum policy measures  impact  upon the humiliation and  social marginalisation of  people seeking asylum,  refuge and the hope for a better life;  and that  that there is an urgent  need to challenge and  transform social inequalities in relation to the asylum-migration-community nexus.

I argued that there was a withdrawal of humanising practices, a lack of welcome to people seeking asylum, and a heightening of the adversarial approach to those who seek to make their lives in the UK and the North. At the same time there is a significant lack of accountability and responsibility by governments and states for their part in the production of the worlds refugees.

I also stated, and still believe, that we need to face up to our global responsibilities towards the displaced, address the causes of ‘the misery of growing refugee movements’ and foster dignity and egalization in the institutions, laws, policies and practices towards people seeking safety in the asylum-migration-community nexus. International agreements on settlement are vital. Further, that creative, cultural and participatory research can support this process, as part of a public sociology or criminology, that can helps build communities of practice to challenge and change such gross inequalities and open and keep open spaces for critical thinking, help mobilise resistance, recognition and respect for people migrating – moving beyond war, violence, poverty and environmental disasters.

Arts based research
For Walter Benjamin (and also John Berger ), the imaginary is central to utopian political thinking, and in order to counter the petrification of the imagination Benjamin stresses the need to revolutionize our image worlds. Thus, arts-based research that prioritises thinking in images can bring into being a politics of representation informed by a politics of subalternity that offers ways of seeing and understanding that may feed into public policy and ultimately help to shift the dominant knowledge/power axis embedded in current governance around ‘immigrants’, migration and in the case of the research documented here the asylum-migration and community nexus, in this case, for women migrants in Barcelona, women seeking asylum in the UK and artists documenting displacement and migration.

Moreover, the benefits of working in participatory ways using arts based research with people seeking asylum to represent lived experiences, claim a voice, raise awareness of relations of humiliation, exclusion as well as inclusion and challenge exclusionary processes and practices, can support the articulation of identity and belonging for those situated in the asylum-migration nexus. This is vitally important to the development of dialogue, a recognitive theory of community, cultural citizenship and social justice, particularly when the voices of migrants are mediated by others, notably the mainstream press and media; as can be seen in ‘Women, wellbeing and community‘ participatory research conducted with women seeking asylum in collaboration with a regional refugee organisation and film maker Janice Haaken.

Global Governance: what next?
In a world of constant movement, of glocalisation, global mobility, migration and what Castles (2003) calls the asylum-migration nexus an enormous amount of energy, time and money is spent on securing the borders of Northern states, of erecting stronger and stronger barriers to entry. This is the current case in Hungary and in Melilla (a Spanish city located on the north coast of Africa, sharing a border with Morocco) where 11.5km of heavily patrolled triple wire fence prevents migrants trying to enter; the current closing of the borders in Austria, Germany and Hungary on the 14th September 2015 as a result of ‘gridlock’; alongside increasingly restrictive asylum policies preventing entry and speeding up removals.

In an open letter to world leaders, Parvati Nair (2015) writes that Greece and Italy are on the frontline in responding to the mass movement and arrival of people and the photograph of three year old Alan Kurdi’s body washed ashore, has mobilised international responses to the ongoing migration crisis in the Mediterranean. For Nair “this signals two inter-related tragedies: firstly, that of the human loss and suffering that is ongoing in this context, and secondly, that of the dire shortcomings of global and regional good governance of migration”.

Similarly, David Held (2015) recently argued that “only when people live securely in a world where sustainable development is promoted in all regions, where severe inequalities between countries are tempered and reduced, and where a universal constitutional order guarantees the rights of all peoples…can cosmopolitan ideals be realised”.

I believe we need to revolutionize our image worlds to think and do creative governance in relation to migration and develop a radical democratic imaginary around borders, migration and belonging .

In taking this project forward I will be working with photographer John Perivolaris, Counterpoint Arts and other collaborators to extend Asylum Migration and Community both theoretically, methodologically and practically in Methods on the move: borders, risk and belonging funded by a Leverhulme Fellowship that brings together walking methods with biographical methods to interrogate the concept of borders, risk and belonging in collaboration with artists and film makers. This will, I hope, in some small way feed into and envision ‘more inclusive, more just, more democratic politics’ and we must work together to create change.

References

Information on  Counterpoints Arts can be found here

No More Beyond‘ is a video essay that was part of Counterpoints Arts Dis/Placed exhibition, June 2015.  Filmed in the city of Melilla, a Spanish enclave in northern Morocco, where 11.5 km of heavily patrolled triple wire fence separate EU territory from migrants trying to enter. The project takes its title from the city’s motto: Non Plus Ultra’. – See more here 
Zygmunt Bauman (2004) Wasted lives: modernity and its outcasts Cambridge, Polity Press.
Stephen Castle (2003), ‘Towards a sociology of Forced Migration and Social Transformation’ in Sociology Vol. 37, No 1, (edited by O’Neill and Spybey) February 2003 London: Sage.
David Held (2015) The Migration Crisis In The EU: Between 9/11 And Climate Change
Parvati Nair (2015) The Mediterranean Crisis: An Open Letter to World Leaders
Maggie O’Neill (2010) Asylum, Migration and Community Bristol: Policy Press

John Perivolaris work including Migrados can be found here
John Perivolaris and Maggie O’Neill (2014) (2014). ‘A Sense of Belonging: Walking with Thaer through migration, memories and space’. Crossings: Journal of Migration & Culture 5(2-3): 327-33

Asylum, Migration and Community is available for purchase from our website here (RRP £25.99). Don’t forget Policy Press newsletter subscribers get a 35% discount when ordering through our website. If you’re not a subscriber yet why not sign up here today and join our Policy Press community

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Leadership lessons from the Baltimore riots?

In today’s guest post Robin Hambleton, author of Leading the inclusive city,  suggests that government policies rather than racial prejudice by individuals are to blame for urban disturbances, such as those in Ferguson and Baltimore in the USA and in Bristol and other cities in the UK.

Hambleton

Robin Hambleton

Having visited several American cities in recent weeks, and talked to public servants, business leaders, community activists and academics about current urban stresses and strains, it is difficult not to conclude that US cities face deeply troubling challenges. Continue reading ‘Leadership lessons from the Baltimore riots?’


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