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English Question: Regional Perspectives on a Fractured Nation

  • Kevin Morgan
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    England remains the 'gaping hole in the devolution settlement'. Debate about how England as a whole should engage with devolution overlooks how regionally fractured England is in terms of culture, society and economic fortunes. The discourse of 'north- south divide' underscores this unevenness. But it is also used to support an often unreflected assumption - by government and regional campaigners - that devolution to the (northern) regions will bring an 'economic dividend'. Equally, assumptions about the capacity of regional devolution to overcome the 'democratic deficit' and introduce more effective governance need a more nuanced evaluation, not least with regard to the (paradoxical) reluctance of a devolving central government to release the levers of power. The English devolution project does, though, promise to undermine the Anglocentric narrative of Britishness and open the way to a radically different notion of Britishness as a culturally diverse and politically devolved polity. L'Angleterre reste 'le trou beant de l'accord qui porte sur la regionalisation'. Le debat sur comment l'Angleterre dans son ensemble devrait se lancer dans la regionalisation ignore l'importance de la rupture de l'Angleterre sur le plan regional pour ce qui est de son climat culturel, social et economique. Le discours a propos du 'clivage Nord-Sud' souligne cette inegalite. Mais on s'en sert aussi pour soutenir une supposition qui souvent n'est pas faite - et par l'administration et par les militants en faveur de la regionalisation - que le transfert des competences aux regions (du nord) apportera des 'dividendes economiques'. De la meme facon, il faut une evaluation plus nuancee des suppositions quant a la capacite de la regionalisation de surmonter 'le deficit democratique' et d'executer simultanement des decisions plus efficaces, entre autres eu egard a la reticence (paradoxale) d'une administration centrale sur la voie de la regionalisation a lacher le pouvoir. Cependant, le projet anglais en faveur de la regionalisation promet de tirer parti de l'histoire anglocentrique d'etre britannique et d'ouvrir la voie a une notion tout a fait differente d'etre britannique qui comporte un regime politique qui est culturellement divers et regionalise. England ist weiterhin die 'klaffende Lucke in der Dezentralisierungsregelung'. Debatten daruber, wie England als Ganzes sich an Dezentralisierung beteiligen soll, ubersehen, wie regional ungleichartig England hinsichtlich Kultur, Gesellschaft und wirtschaftlichem Wohlstand ist. Der Diskurs der 'Kluft zwischen Nord-Sud' unterstreicht diese Ungleichheit. Andrerseits wird er auch dazu benutzt, die oft - von der Regierung und Verfechtern der Regionen - unuberlegte Annahme zu stutzen, dass Dezentralisierung den (nordlichen) Regionen eine 'wirtschaftliche Dividende' bescheren werde. Ebenso verlangen Annahmen bezuglich der Fahigkeit regionaler Dezentralisierung, das 'demokratische Defizit' zu uberwinden, und gleichzeitig wirksamere politische Entscheidungen herbeizufuhren, eine feiner nuancierte Bewertung, nicht zuletzt im Hinblick auf die (paradoxe) Abneigung der dezentralisierenden Landesregierung, das Steuer der Macht fahren zu lassen. Das englische Dezentralisatierungsprojekt verspricht jedoch, die anglozentrische Legende des britischen Wesens zu berichtigen, und den Weg fur eine grundlegend anderartige Vorstellung des britischen Wesens als ein kulturell verschiedenartiges und politisch selbstandiges Staatswesen zu erschliessen.

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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Regional Studies.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 7 ()
    Pages: 797-810

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:36:y:2002:i:7:p:797-810
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    1. J Murdoch & M Tewdwr-Jones, 1999. "Planning and the English regions: conflict and convergence amongst the institutions of regional governance," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 17(6), pages 715-729, December.
    2. Ash Amin, 1999. "An Institutionalist Perspective on Regional Economic Development," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(2), pages 365-378, 06.
    3. A Rodr�guez-Pose, 1996. "Growth and institutional change: the influence of the Spanish regionalisation process on economic performance," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 14(1), pages 71-87, February.
    4. Stephen Fothergill, 2001. "The True Scale of the Regional Problem in the UK," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(3), pages 241-246.
    5. Andy Pike, 2002. "Post-devolution blues? Economic development in the Anglo-Scottish borders," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(9), pages 1067-1082.
    6. Kevin Morgan, 2001. "The New Territorial Politics: Rivalry and Justice in Post-devolution Britain," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 343-348.
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