The political place of locality studies

17 Jan 2018, 3:13 p.m.
D Massey Faculty of Social Sciences, Open University, Milton Keynes

Abstract. In this paper the reasons for studying local areas are examined, and in particular the context of the recent Changing Urban and Regional System Initiative in the United Kingdom. The focus is especially on the sociopolitical context of those studies. The argument is that the reasons for studying localities were in this case both historically and geographically specific. Some confusions around locality studies are also examined, in particular their incorrect equation with concrete research, description, the impact of the
spatial on the social, and the postmodern. The discussion then turns to some recent arguments, especially those of Harvey, which imply that local foci are not progressive; the various strands of this position are examined and debated. All this raises the more fundamental question of what is meant by the terms place and locality.

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