Conference Agenda

RN32_06a: Cities and Populism (URBPOP)
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Monika De Frantz, Charles University Prague
Location: GM.338
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Populism in the City: The Case of Ford Nation URBPOP

Daniel Silver1, Zack Taylor2, Fernando Calderón Figueroa1

1University of Toronto, Canada; 2University of Western Ontario, Canada

Populism is often viewed as a national-level phenomenon that pits a declining periphery against a cosmopolitan, economically successful metropolis. Our analysis of Rob Ford’s 2010 campaign and mayoralty in Toronto reveals the potential for the emergence of populist politics within the metropolis. To comprehend his appeal, principally within the city’s ethnically diverse postwar peripheral areas, we apply Brubaker’s conceptualization of populism as a discursive repertoire. Drawing on qualitative information and analysis of survey research, we first describe how Ford constructed electorally salient protagonists and antagonists. Second, we discuss how his emerge was enabled by institutional, economic, and demographic change. Finally, we explain Ford’s appeal to a diverse electorate in terms of the sincerity and coherence of his performance as the collective representation of suburban grievance. We conclude by arguing that populism may emerge in metropolitan settings with strong, spatially manifest internal social, economic, and cultural divisions.

Spaces Of European Unease: Localism, Translocalism And Populist Reactions To Urban/Regional Shocks (URBPOP)_

Ian Richard Gordon

London School of Economics, United Kingdom

The rise of electoral support for populist parties – mostly of the right but also of the left – within the past decade has distinct geographic as well as time profiles that invite lines of explanation as to this source of disaffection with opinion-forming elites and mainstream parties. On both dimensions there are suggestions that the phenomenon is related to enlarged migrant and/or Muslim populations, to increased inequalities between individuals and communities, economic failures associated with offshoring of jobs and the fallout of the 2007-8 financial crisis – and a growing cultural separation between an increasingly cosmopolitan metropolitan culture and non-metropolitan communities retaining more traditional values

This paper builds on previous work (Gordon, 2018) that has used the European Social Survey panel to test hypotheses about the impacts of region-specific economic and cultural shocks on vulnerable groups and how reactions to the (more significant) cultural shock was mediated at individual and community level by biases toward localist/cosmopolitan types of personal capital and membership of two kinds of translocal organisation (Catholic churches and trades unions). This paper extends that analysis to look more directly at the urban dimension, in relation to the functioning of urban politics – and the implications of the new spaces of unease for politics within and between urban communities.

The New EU Urban Agenda: Mobilising the 'Right to the City' Top Down? (URBPOP)

Monika De Frantz

Charles University Prague, University of Vienna

To contribute to the urban objective of the global sustainable development goals, the new EU Urban Agenda was established in 2016 with the aim of fostering the urban dimensions of European governance. Focusing on the 'right to the city' as critical claim for global sustainable development, this paper enquires into the normative implications of the new urban agenda for European governance. Despite the political success for the urban movement, the global urban agenda also raised critical concerns that transnational governance may harmonise urban diversity and thus actually weaken global sustainable development. Applying the urban globalisation critique to the European context, the paper conceptualises the 'soft' nature of EU urban governance as transnational mobilisation and cooperation process. As an intergovernmental instrument with no legal or financial resources, the EU urban agenda offers a broad normative framework for mobilising transnational cooperation from the top down. The urban partnerships established then during the first implementation phase indicate various new normative and cooperative structures. By reflecting these preliminary findings through the scholarly debates on EU regional policy and on the global urban agenda, the paper develops assumptions about the potential implications for the broader processes of European governance. Thus interpreting the 'right to the city' as a critical claim to transform, evaluate and contest European governance, the paper elaborates a research agenda that aims to embed top-down transnational governance in bottom-up urban politics. Connecting the European with the global debates also contributes to reflecting the potential of knowledge exchange for politicizing the broad notion of sustainable urban development.

Does Local Fragmentation Drive Populism? Trump and More

Terry Clark

University of Chicago, United States of America

The Brexit fragmentation in Parliament powerfully illustrates fragmentation and dissatisfaction with traditional leadership and rules of the game. After the Berlin wall fell in 1989, many European countries saw new leagues and political parties emerge (Poland had hundreds, Italy some 30). Comparing local and national patterns over time brings out the rise of fragmentation and permits analysis of new leadership patterns. An earlier example was the decline of class politics and traditional left-right party programs; these offer analytical strategies for interpreting populist leaders (Clark and Lipset 2001 summarize the debate which continues). We offer general propositions about populism, some brief case study support, and analysis of Trump 2016 election patterns across all US counties (about 3000).

Northern Exposure: Fear, Loathing and Hope in the North of England after Brexit (URBPOP)

Adrian Charles Favell

University of Leeds, United Kingdom

The North of England has played a central role in debates about the causes and consequences of the Brexit referendum, especially in the widespread perception of a divided Britain. There is a pervasive vision of the North outside of the bigger cities, driven by a wave of public opinion scholars and public intellectuals, that it represented a “heartland” vote: of “somewhere” people (core national, rooted, working class, “left behind”) against the “anywheres” (affluent, educated, cosmopolitan, metropolitan elites). At the same time, Brexit has raised fears about the future of a multi-racial society with high levels of immigration. The North of England is also viewed as a place of simmering racism and xenophobia: pitting White British, older British minority groups, and newer incomers such as asylum seekers or East European workers against each other in deprived and depressed post-industrial locations – particularly away from the more cosmopolitan “core cities” such as Manchester and Leeds. The paper will present initial documentary and ethnographic research from the ESRC funded ‘Northern Exposure’ project. Homing in on four archetypal northern towns, we interrogate sweeping perceptions of the North, while broaching sensitive questions of everyday nationalism, race and racism in largely understudied and marginalised places. While places such as Wakefield and Middlesbrough have struggled to come to terms with new European migrations and refugee settlement amidst widespread deprivation and political alienation, other locations such as Halifax and Preston offer examples of renewed multiculturalism and social intervention able to conceive a more hopeful future for multi-ethnic Britain.