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English Question: Regional Perspectives on a Fractured Nation


  • Kevin Morgan


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Morgan, 2002. "English Question: Regional Perspectives on a Fractured Nation," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(7), pages 797-810.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:36:y:2002:i:7:p:797-810
    DOI: 10.1080/0034340022000006114

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. A Rodríguez-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.
    3. Andy Pike, 2002. "Post-devolution blues? Economic development in the Anglo-Scottish borders," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(9), pages 1067-1082.
    4. 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, June.
    5. J Murdoch & M Tewdwr-Jones, 1999. "Planning and the English Regions: Conflict and Convergence Amongst the Institutions of Regional Governance," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 17(6), pages 715-729, December.
    6. Stephen Fothergill, 2001. "The True Scale of the Regional Problem in the UK," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(3), pages 241-246.
    7. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Roberto Ezcurra, 2010. "Does decentralization matter for regional disparities? A cross-country analysis," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(5), pages 619-644, September.
    2. Martin, Hanna & Martin, Roman, 2016. "Policy capacities for new regional industrial path development – The case of new media and biogas in southern Sweden," Papers in Innovation Studies 2016/25, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    3. Luis Diaz-Serrano & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 2015. "Decentralization and the Welfare State: What Do Citizens Perceive?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 120(2), pages 411-435, January.
    4. Cinzia Di Novi & Massimiliano Piacenza & Silvana Robone & Gilberto Turati, 2015. "How does fiscal decentralization affect within-regional disparities in well-being? Evidence from health inequalities in Italy," Working Papers 2015:21, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    5. Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Roberto Ezcurra, 2011. "Is fiscal decentralization harmful for economic growth? Evidence from the OECD countries," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(4), pages 619-643, July.
    6. Lee Pugalis & Alan R. Townsend, 2014. "The emergence of ‘new’ spatial coalitions in the pursuit of functional regions of governance," Regional Science Policy & Practice, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 49-67, March.
    7. Mike Coombes & Peter O'Brien & Andy Pike & John Tomaney, 2016. "Austerity States, Institutional Dismantling and the Governance of Sub-National Economic Development: The Demise of the Regional Development Agencies in England," SERC Discussion Papers 0206, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    8. Adrian Smith, 2007. "Emerging in between: the multi-level governance of renewable energy in the English regions," SPRU Working Paper Series 159, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    9. Smith, Adrian, 2007. "Emerging in between: The multi-level governance of renewable energy in the English regions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 6266-6280, December.
    10. Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Sylvia A R Tijmstra & Adala Bwire, 2009. "Fiscal decentralisation, efficiency, and growth," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 41(9), pages 2041-2062, September.
    11. John Harrison, 2008. "Stating the Production of Scales: Centrally Orchestrated Regionalism, Regionally Orchestrated Centralism," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(4), pages 922-941, December.
    12. Adrian Smith, 2007. "Multi-Level governance: Towards an analysis of renewable energy governance in the English regions," SPRU Working Paper Series 153, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    13. Hal Hill & Yogi Vidyattama, 2016. "Regional Development Dynamics In Indonesia Before And After The ‘Big Bang’ Decentralization," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 61(02), pages 1-26, June.


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