Graham Symon and I have had an abstract accepted for a paper we will present at the Future Cities 2011 conference, being held in London on 15th & 16th December this year. The paper builds on an idea that came from some work on localism we were doing earlier in the year for the Economic Development Resource Centre, in which we suggested that an economic insurgency was one potential outcome of a radical localism in economic development. The full abstract is below:
How low can it go? The devolution of economic development and the possibility of economic insurgency
This presentation provides a critique of the UK Government’s policies and plans for devolving economic development processes from the regional to the local and neighbourhood levels. Drawing on economic development theory and experiences from Europe, Latin America, the United States and Japan, radical approaches to economic development are reviewed that suggest possibilities for innovative approaches to the problems of economic development in the cities of the UK.
International examples show that alternative models are available for growing the economies of our cities and towns that have the character of a challenging, bottom-up insurgency – a stark contrast to the conservative models of growth being offered by the new Local Enterprise Partnerships and Government departments. In an economic insurgency, traditional, hierarchical institutions and frameworks come under attack from below as new economies take shape and start to re-shape places from within.
Following the financial crisis of 2008, Western governments have struggled to develop consistently successful responses to stimulating sustainable growth in post-crash economies. In the UK, the Government’s ‘local growth’ white paper appeared to promote a return to pre-crash methods of top-down economic development with an increased role for the private sector, despite the rhetorical references to a ‘new localism’ and economic ideas of subsidiarity and sustainability. However, despite these contradictions, recent Government espousals have the potential to create an environment in which more radical approaches to economic development are becoming possible. This presentation argues that an economic insurgency is a necessary next step in local economic development in the UK.
 Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2010) Local Growth,London: HMSO
 Florida, R. (2010) The Great Reset: how new ways of living and working drive post-crash prosperity, New York: Harper Collins
 Bentley, G., Bailley, D. & Shutt, J. (2010) From RDAs to LEPs: A New Localism? Case Examples of West Midlands and Yorkshire in Local Economy, Vol. 25, No.7, pp. 535-537
 Schumacher, E.F. (1973/1993) Small is beautiful: a study of economics as if people mattered,London: Vintage