Popular Democracy – Rejoinder by Baiocchi and Ganuza

In this post we bring CURA’s book debate on Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Ernesto Ganuza’s book “Popular Democracy” to a close, with a rejoinder by the authors to Adrian Bua’s review, written in response to an opening post describing the main argument of the book.

We thank Adrian Bua and CURA for this invitation to reflect on this important set of issues in the contemporary debate about cities, neoliberalism, and the future of democracy.

Adrian Bua presents us with a set of interesting provocations about the challenges of participation in a neoliberal context based on two major issues: the limits of procedures, and the relations between institutions and social struggles. It is not only a question of political will, as Adrian suggests, but of concrete material struggles. And that is what we are going to try address here, knowing that the challenge is huge, touching as it does, on issues that are central to the political left.

The history of Participatory Budgeting dates to pro-democracy struggles in Brazil in the 1980s, but the jump to its becoming a global icon is inextricably linked to the alterglobalization movement. In the early 2000s the Workers Party of the city of Porto Alegre organized the World Social Forum with the alterglobalization movement.  The slogan that emerged, “Another World is Possible”, connected social struggles for a fairer world, which social movements had been claiming on a planetary scale for over ten years, with a participatory experience promoted by a government of the left, which had been implemented in Porto Alegre over the previous decade. There, the desires for a fairer world informed by social justice joined with an instrument based on the participation of the people in the political decision making. This instrument had already proven its ability to distribute wealth in a municipality in the Global South, and therefore, quickly became a global icon against neoliberal policies.

In spite of the seemingly unstoppable advances of neoliberal logics in the next decade, PB  became known as an instrument able to lead a public management in the direction of social justice than actual governance outcomes. After the first three World Social Forums, PB experiences multiplied in the world. Spanish experiences come directly from the WSF, where politicians and activists went to the first years. US  experiences arrived through an American Social Forum, a derivate of the World Social Forum, a few years later.  This is not to say that PB has been promoted by social movements, but the rhetoric surrounding PB come from the WSF and it was used by political representatives to implement this experience in Europe and the US. So, PB in global North was pregnant with ideas about social justice and the democratization of public spaces. How can neoliberalism usurp this idea?

The failure or limits of PB in the Global North, as we discuss in the book, are not due to a lack of tools, but to a political perspective. The history of capitalism that Boltanski and Chiapello outline in The New Spirit of Capitalism already announced the coexistence of artistic logics with the traditional logics of resistance. Participation offers a genuine channel to this artistic expression: more autonomy, self-management and horizontality. That the WB has changed its own way of approaching development, incorporating participation as a driving idea, may be a good example of this. But so are the manuals of new public management so widespread in European countries today. They have made it possible for all types of government, irrespective of their ideology, to see participation as a possible way. The expansion of PB in the world has much to do with this, rather than the ideals of social movements.

However, what we argue is that, despite this, the PB carries with it a radically democratic idea: as it gives autonomy to the people and puts them at the center of the political process, something that we cannot ignore. Participants in these experiences are able to go beyond the boundaries of representation to visualize a radical democratic game, which continually compels them to try to re-connect participation to decision-making processes and social justice, which often involves conflict with the administration promoting PB.  For the Indignados in Spain, for example, PBs were always a concrete tool capable of transferring their rhetoric for social justice to a concrete institutional context. The problem is not the tool, but the political perspective with which the PB is implemented.

The dilemmas that Adrian mentions are real.  Local governments face constraints in pursuing radical policies, partly because they do not have sufficient power to condition the policies that most affect citizenship.  The scales of democracy, to rehearse an old argument of Robert Dahl, are mismatched.  Problems are felt locally, and local constituencies routinely elect more governments that are more progressive or radical, than national ones.   But local governments can do very little to impact policies, such as employment policies, that are the main concern of their constituents.  And in a globalized world, interconnections reduce the autonomy of agents even further.  National governments now find their space of maneuver reduced.

But this does not mean that nothing can be done. It does not mean that if in Europe economic decisions have a marked technocratic and neoliberal character, municipal governments can not deploy political measures with other logics. The problem, we insist, is a political one.  Nothing prevents the establishment of radical democratic mechanisms in cities.  Whether these might come into conflict down the line with policies at other levels of government, or if it might awaken political demands that are more radical than current governance allows, are different questions.   Now, the question would be whether a political project of such caliber is really desired. If the PB has always been implemented on the way that caused the least resistance in the cities, disconnecting it from the operative centers of the administrations, we need to question the political projects behind these implementations. Do rulers really want that democratic radicalism? This obviously alludes to a political issue of immense controversy for the political left. But perhaps the movements of indignados in Spain and Occupy in Us were right to stop thinking of utopian horizons, societies that had to be designed beforehand, which always requires experts and political elites, to imagine a democratic radicalization. It is this democratic radicalism that is frightening, even to many leftist militants and activists.

In Madrid and Barcelona, today’s governments, which would be impossible to understand without the protests of indignados, could assume that democratic radicalism more broadly. It is true that it is not only about techniques, but about political culture and that way is very long. This would not mean to reject experts or politicians, but to democratize political spaces. It is true that none of the governments of the two Spanish cities has a majority in their respective municipalities, which conditions their own government program. But they can undoubtedly use more democratic logics in local affairs where they have maneuverability. That will not change the world, but it would help make it more egalitarian and fairer. But above all it would generate concrete referents to follow that way.

The second great question raised by Adrian Bua has to do with the very design of the participatory experience and to what extent we could say that a participatory government can effectively favor a more just and egalitarian politics. We have already mentioned above that we understand that the problems have not to do so much with the techniques as with the political perspective. Here the question raises doubts about the ability of governments to establish democratic institutions from above, reversing the bottom-up logic that has usually been a commonplace for the political left imaginaries. We understand that doubts are more than reasonable considering past experience, but that cannot make us forget that institutions are based in society.

The problem, as we understand it, is not the institution, unless we imagine a world without them, but the type and logic that make institutions work. As the PBs have been designed, we will hardly see large institutional changes, since they are conceived outside the great political nodes in the administrations. If we say that institutional design matters, it is because we find it difficult to think of social change without changing institutions. The PB has been designed in most of the experiences at the margins of institutions, it is that peripheral character that weakens their possibilities of change. Even so, we understand that the very dynamics involved in a participatory budget activates the political imagination of the participants towards less neoliberal logics and, in many cases, leads them to challenge the limits imposed by the promoters of experiences.

Perhaps if the PB is repeated much will be able to generate a political imaginary that serves as the basis for more substantive experiences. Perhaps, also, it only serves to tarnish a new experiment that promised a lot and was unable to face the oligarchical logics of neoliberalism. In any case, participation as a tool does not pose any challenge in its development. There are innumerable techniques capable of converging the lot with participation in the assembly or in a digital environment. The problem is the political perspective that frames participation and everything that implies in a political scenario dominated by neoliberalism: autonomy and horizontality. That is the political radicalism of the project and in turn the great dilemma for political representatives, whether of the left or right. Do we want really radical democratic institutions?

Gianpolo Baiocchi is associate professor of individualized studies and sociology, as well as director of the Urban Democracy Lab and Civic Engagement at the, Gallatin School, New York University.

Ernesto Ganuza is a researcher at the Centre for Advanced Social Studies, Spanish National Research Council (IESA- CSIC) in Cordoba, Spain.

Book Debate: The End of Representative Politics?

Today we publish a two part blog on Professor Simon Tormey’s book “the End of Representative Politics“. In this work Tormey argues that narratives of democratic decline are too tightly focused on representative forms of politics, and thus conceal processes of politicisation and democratisation outside the purview of representative institutions. Tormey’s opening statement in part 1 is followed by a reply by CURA’s Adrian Bua in part 2, asking Simon to expand upon the democratising potential of “post-representative” forms of politics.

Part 1: Simon Tormey on the End of Representative Politics

For nearly half a century political science has been gripped by “the crisis of democracy”. After a period in which liberal democracy seems to be in rude health with high turnouts for elections, mass political parties, and high level of interest in and knowledge about politics, citizens seem to have turned off and tuned out.

2016 gave us a partial correction of this image of apathy and indifference with the emergence of populist movements and leaders. The reinvigoration of politics as it least a talking point in many households off the back of Brexit, Trump et al. Some parties, notably the Labour Party, also bucked the trend in managing to recruit a new generation of enthusiastic young members.

Yet political scientists remain gloomy about the overall trend. Many note the lack of engagement in for example sub and supranational elections. Others note the “easy come, easy go” nature of our political affiliations, our fluctuating preferences, low boredom threshold, and the inconsistency of the manner by which we engage as participants. Many also note that populism arises not out of renewed interest in politics, but it’s opposite: frustration with mainstream politicians, technocrats, experts, representatives of all stripes.  In short we should not be sanguine about the future of democratic participation because of populism. On the contrary, populism should be a wake-up call for all of us concerning the health and well-being of our democracies.

Looking back over the relevant literature three variables have been explored by political scientists to explore the problem: the lack of civic engagement, the decadence of the political class, and the deathly grip of neoliberalism and austerity politics.   Depending on one’s intuition about the matter and reading of the relevant data, the solutions flow from the diagnosis:  increasing civic education, understanding and knowledge of political institutions; better training, payment and preparation of the political class; acknowledging the complicity of market based strategies and privatisation in the emptying out the public realm.

This is all quite persuasive at one level.  However there is something missing in this puzzle, and this is the representative function itself.  What I argued in The End of Representative Politics (polity, 2015) is that we have arrived at a moment when we need to look more closely at how representation itself works, and for whom. My reasoning is that the core elements that historically compose the representative claim:  commonality of interest, identities or ideologies is under stress as we move from societies marked by stable hierarchies, respect for tradition, for elites toward societies marked by “individualisation”, flatter or even horizontal social structures, and a consequent erosion of the traditional basis for authority, a respect for hierarchy.

Sociologists regard these developments almost invariably in negative terms.   They represent the loss of the kinds of society they grew up in and have done well in: societies in which there is a deep respect for, for example, academics and professionals we have special claim to knowledge and insight. On the other hand, what it means is a different  way of relating to politics and a different repertoire of political engagement. Henrik Bang uses the term “everyday makers” to describe the emergence of new kinds of political actor who do not wish to be represented by others, who are not satisfied by a periodic engagement with the electoral process, and with the assignment of the capacity to act to representatives.

In my own fieldwork in Spain, this sense of impatience with representation was all too evident. It’s an impatience borne by a strong belief that politics should be about individuals joining together to help themselves rather than to be passive recipients of something whether that be welfare, jobs or whatever. But what also became evident is that a mistrust of mainstream politics need not necessarily lead to apathy or indifference. Nor does it have to lead to populism, or at least the kinds of populism that we associate with Trump and Brexit.   It can lead to the development of an imaginative repertoire of new kinds of political action, initiatives which led me to describe Spain as “a political laboratory”. It’s a laboratory where citizens conduct the experiments. It is one where what was considered impossible yesterday becomes quite possible today, whether it be the creation of pop-up parties, Twitter-led citizen insurgencies, a proliferation of direct action groupings of every stripe and colour, or latterly the election of “unelectable” radical figures, notably Ada Colau and former communist Manuela Carmena.

And so we arrive full-circle.  Representative politics is not dead. It is not even dying. It is mutating and changing. With the emergence of new kinds of political subjectivity armed with new tools for individualised collective action, we are seeing “everyday makers” move from the periphery of political life to the centre. Whether the emergence of a more active citizenry and of institutions better attuned to their needs succeeds over the counterveiling forces that so preoccupy political scientists is needless to say far from a formality.

But nor can we go back.  The Golden Age of representative politics is long past.  Either we reformulate democracy in terms that are more engaging and inclusive for citizens or we can anticipate continued gains by those for whom democracy is a means to their own advancement, rather than to an improvement in how we govern ourselves.

Part 2: Reply by Adrian Bua

There is much to agree with the argument set out in Simon’s book. First, it is a refreshing departure from narratives about democratic decline that do not sufficiently recognise the importance of the politics that occur outside of the purview of traditional institutions. Second, underpinning his argument is an understanding that democracy is a highly adaptable system, shape-shifting in reflection of social balances of power. Third, The End of Representative Politics does not attempt armchair design of institutions intended to “fix” the system – the big changes the book traces do not come from blueprints, but emerge from dynamics that exist in the present. For these reasons Simon’s book is necessary reading for those thinking about how to shape a more democratic future.

In my response I ask Simon to extend his argument in one area: that of the massive challenges that democratising projects face contemporarily. In doing so, I will focus on issues related the third variable that Simon identifies in the literature – that of neoliberalism and austerity politics. Specifically, I question whether new forms of post-representative and progressive politics pose a threat to the deeply de-democratising trajectory  of contemporary capitalism. My challenge is that whilst Simon’s work is indeed refreshing in challenging ubiquitous decline narratives, it runs the danger of Pollyannaism absent a clear account of how post-representative politics can challenge the deepening and expanding capitalist system.

One way to cast this challenge is the development of plutonomy – an idea developed by Citibank in the mid noughties to reassure its equity clients that global prosperity was not threatened by widening inequality, and would not again depend on a redistributive fix akin to the post-war settlement.  A decade on, and following the global financial crash the move toward global plutonomy seems to me to be alive and well – and also seems to dwarf post-representative politics.

The democratic spaces that Simon identifies emerge at a time when the space for politics is unprecedentedly constrained by the imperative to protect appease capitalist markets. Responses to the crash by nation states and global state institutions have been designed to insulate neo-liberalism and austerity from democracy.  The increased use of coercive enforcement does point at a crumbling hegemony – neo-liberalism resorts to the hard hand of state power to protect accumulation as it can rely less on popular consent or acquiescence. In the face of a phenomenal expansion of protest movements, the austerity state has developed measures for policing and criminalizing protest. Simon would be right to argue that these are signs of a system struggling to cope and with and control new political dynamics. However, absent an alternative capable of mobilising protest and governing it seems to me that evanescence – one of the features of post-representative politics identified by Simon in his book – is all we can expect. Without moving from protest to effective proposition two outcomes seem likely: for neo-liberalism to continue on in its de-democratizing path, in zombie fashion and under the protection of the austerity state, or for it to be de-railed by authoritarian nationalism, or fascism.

Developments in Spain, described by Simon and colleagues in other work as a “political laboratory”, are indeed hopeful. Here we have an attempt by post-representative social movements to move into the representative state.  As well as the election of Ada Colau (Barcelona) and Manuela Carmena (Madrid) mentioned in Simon’s post, an impressive array of other major cities have elected administrations claiming to represent social movements. An array of policies are being implemented that advance minority rights, protect the welfare state, combat gentrification and experiment with participatory democracy. However, this politics is constrained by governance challenges linked to a hostile Spanish state that dutifully implements austerity measures, the development of policies that contradict international capital, and contemporarily, regional independentist movements that have arguably pushed social issues down the political agenda, and are being quashed in decidedly undemocratic and authoritarian fashion, by a reactionary government that mendaciously claims to be acting in protection of “democracy”.

In summary, I do not want to question the development of post-representative politics, but its ability to perform and deliver democratisation in the context briefly sketched here. Simon is right to reject nostalgia, and focus on emergent possibilities. The question I want to ask is linked to one posed by Simon at the end of the book – can post-representative politics transform their critical energy into a genuinely reforming political initiative? How can we expect radical democratic impulses of post representative politics to interact with the de-politicising, de-democratizing tendencies of increasingly authoritarian neoliberalism and, perhaps most importantly, its capacity for co-option and usurpation?

Simon Tormey is Professor and Head of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney

Adrian Bua is a researcher at the New Economics Foundation and at CURA

Popular Democracy – Response by Adrian Bua

In this post Adrian Bua continues CURA’s third book debate by replying to Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Ernesto Ganuza’s first post outlining the argument in their recent book “Popular Democracy: the Paradox of Participation”.

Popular Democracy deals with an important question for contemporary debates on democratisation – what is the democratic potential of participatory governance in a context of deepening neo-liberalism? To answer this the book develops a history of changes in public administration theory and practice, and then focuses specifically on the origins and travel of Participatory Budgeting (PB) from Porto Alegre in Brazil to Cordoba in Europe and Chicago in North America. In doing so, the authors draw on years of research into participatory governance including ethnographies in the European and North American case studies.

On one hand, Popular Democracy tells a story of the neo-liberal usurpation of what was originally a radical and innovative attempt to revive the socialist project in the context of disillusionment with the pseudo-socialist regimes of Eastern Europe and elsewhere. However, as is clear from the author’s first post, as PB travelled the globe, it became disconnected from its original attempt to provide a collective space for the pursuit of distributive justice, to one oriented towards the individual expression of preferences (for an overview of this process of disconnection see here). On the other hand, the book also tells a more positive story about possibilities opened up by PB. In this post I invite the authors to elaborate upon the implications of their arguments for (a) the potential and limits of institutional design, and (b) the relationship between social struggle and participatory governance, and the role of the former in generating opportunities for empowerment.

First, a key argument of the book is that institutional design matters. Thus, as Ernesto and Gianpaolo argue in their initial entry, if participation is to be a genuinely democratising force, it should be clearly linked to binding decisions of state administration, which itself must adopt a participatory ‘modus operandi’  to accommodate participatory inputs. For reasons I won’t repeat here, but have summarised in another review, this was achieved in Porto Alegre – which turns minds to the claim that processes and institutions can be designed by elites to empower citizens. This is a key tenet of “top-down democratisation”.  I would like to ask the authors, firstly, to what extent is success down to the technicalities of getting the institutional design “right”, or is it more to do with politics? The second question is about how far institutional design can go – to what extent can a well-designed Participatory Budget influence fundamental questions about political economy, including how resources are distributed; where economic power lies? The challenge here might be that there is space for participatory governance in times of plenty, but it hits the buffers when resources are scarce and there is more conflict over both the size of budgets and distribution.

International research into collaborative governance led by us at CURA broaches the question of what happens to collaborative practice and ideology during capitalist busts – in times such as the present one, of low growth and austerity. Our cases vary. To give two examples, in the UK it is clear that participatory governance has lost the normative power it once had amongst local state actors. It has become a tool for the local state to manage the consequences of, and adapt to, austerity and scarcity – a far cry away from the empowering and democratising claims associated with it in earlier times. However, in Barcelona, municipal government is experimenting with radicalised forms of participatory governance. Although hopeful, this experiment is severely limited. It is a crosscurrent, even if a strong one, to a hostile Spanish state which continues to deepen neo-liberalism. Still, the fact that such experiments are taking place in various Spanish cities indicates a more generalised ambition for a more participatory democracy and an alternative, more socially just, political economy.

The experience in Barcelona, and Spain more broadly, is rooted in the oppositional and pre-figurative politics of post-crash social movements based around the 15-M demonstrations. The influence of PB upon these social movements is alluded to in the book, which argues that despite their clear limitations, the experience of US and Spanish PB ignited a radicalism which lived on in mass mobilisations such as occupy in the US and the indignados in Spain. It evoked new political subjects and expanded social imaginaries beyond the boundaries of representation in ways that contributed to the alternatives proposed by these movements. This is an interesting argument because critics of elite democracy promotion (or ‘governance-driven democratisation’ for others) argue that it forecloses, and diverts energy away from, more critical and bottom up forms of participation and struggle which have historically been perhaps the main democratising force. Given the different outcomes observed in our own research, at which point, and why, do the authors think that the demands they made translated into this substantive reform agenda within formal political institutions? At the level of direct participants this seems counter-intuitive – surely, taking part in the kinds of individualised, zero-sum processes the authors describe in their initial post must be a disappointing and disempowering experience? I would like to ask the authors to expand on how is it that more radical and democratic subjects emerge from this, particularly in light of the much-discussed diminution out of the Porto-Alegre model?

This question brings me to my final point.  Ernesto and Gianpaolo’s account points to a non-dichotomous, even complementary, relationship between top-down and bottom-up spaces of participation. Municipal governments like Barcelona en Comu and Ahora Madrid evidence this kind of relationship – they are rooted in grassroots oppositional politics, but now engage in institutional design and policy making. Their move into the state means a move “from protest to proposition”. At the end of the book the authors argue that the challenge for the future is to make the most of the critical energies summoned by participatory experiences like PB. I would like to close by asking what advice the authors have for radical administrations currently experimenting with participatory governance.  Do they think that this participatory milieu in urban governance can be shored up and avoid neo-liberal co-option – and what is the role, if any, for critical and oppositional forms of participation and social struggle in this?

One respondent from the fieldwork in Barcelona (see p. 17 here), put the contextual challenges faced by this project well:

“The tools are very tiny and the expectations are great. How can the City Council of a city that is globally located on the map of the relevant cities in the world, which attracts migratory flows, capital flows… how can it manage a power that it does not have? The City Council does not have the power of the city. It is a very small portion of power”.

Adrian Bua is a researcher and a core member of CURA.

Popular Democracy by Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Ernesto Ganuza


In this post Ernesto Ganuza and Gianpaolo Baiocchi begin our third instalment of CURA’s Book Debates series by outlining the main argument in their recently co-authored book “Popular Democracy: the Paradox of Participation” – where they trace the development of participatory governance, focusing specifically on the paradigmatic process of Participatory Budgeting, its origins in the Southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, and its subsequent globalization as it travelled to European and North American cities. In a forthcoming post, CURA’s Adrian Bua will write a response and Ernesto and Gianpaolo will close the debate with a reply.

No one can escape the fact that we live in an era where calls for participation are ubiquitous. Participation is seen as the solution to the failings of democracy and a weakened civic spirit. Today, political actors, from specialists to politicians and administrators, compete to bear the heraldry of participation. We are talking about a new political hegemony.

This participatory era rests on new kinds of participatory processes that are different in spirit to those in the 70’s. Participation nowadays focusses on the public in general, in the form of deliberative spaces in which individuals, rather than civic associations, are invited to reflect on public affairs, and, in many cases to make policy decisions.  A direct form of participation is invoked that breaks with the tradition of relegating participation to a mere measure of public opinion.

However, viewed historically, this expansion of participation is somewhat paradoxical. Participation has ceased to be a counter-power like that of the 1970’s, and has become part of the functioning of administration and formal political power. It is a process of top-down democratization. Beginning with the revolts of the seventies against centralized bureaucracies, public administration has found in participation a faithful ally in its attempt to become more proximate to society, and realise the need for the public legitimation of politics. Participatory rhetoric has changed the hallmark with which it was usually presented – from prostesting, to proposing. Participation in the new spaces is not a matter of oppositional reclamation, but of constructive proposition.

Criticisms of this historical process have by no means been delayed. Both the content and context of this new political hegemony have been linked to the predatory spirit of neoliberalism. After all, participation’s logic is close to neoliberalism’s entrepreneurial spirit – do it yourself! This criticism is most forceful in a context in which the political impact of participation in cities is doubted. Just when there is no city in the world that does not invite citizens to participate, participation has lost its social justice focus, and provides spaces for consumerist disputes instead.

Faced with this all-engulfing neoliberal wave, the book explores the birth and journey of one of the most emblematic participatory processes; that of participatory budgeting. As a metaphor for this new political hegemony, we have seen how the travel of participation leads to its trivialization and disengagement from political processes as it lands on new shores. In this process, full of contradictions and popular struggles between lay citizens and elites such as experts, bureaucrats and politicians, the dilemma of participation’s neo-liberalization comes into view.

The problem of participation lies in thinking about the link between opinion and power only in terms of the relationship between citizens and representatives, without taking into account how political institutions work. Participation then becomes limited to a process for revealing public preferences. As good as that may be for some, it forgets all the second-order issues involved in politics: priorities must be defined in a (democratic) setting characterised by the equality of all and the existence of finite resources. It is therefore not enough to count proposals, nor to turn participation into a zero-sum game. You win, I lose. Information and debate are needed before deciding. A practical and material concept of the equality that offers everybody a real voice is needed. Therefore, it is not surprising that if we understand participation as an expression of individual preferences, in this context of finite resources, participatory processes become platforms for the selfish pursuit of individual interests.

Participation aims to build bridges between politics and society, but when it is disconnected from institutions it can degenerate into fatuous disputes. In other words, if participation is to claim a legitimate presence in contemporary society it will need to be linked to the workings of public administration. To achieve this, it is necessary to develop administrative reforms that envisage a participatory modus operandi. Otherwise participation will always be peripheral to both politics and social developments – and will thus fail to resolve democracy’s problems and the need for the public legitimation of political decisions.

Gianpolo Baiocchi is associate professor of individualized studies and sociology, as well as director of the Urban Democracy Lab and Civic Engagement at the, Gallatin School, New York University.

Ernesto Ganuza is a researcher at the Centre for Advanced Social Studies, Spanish National Research Council (IESA- CSIC) in Cordoba, Spain.

Introducing Gendered Harm and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System

CanningIn today’s blog post, Victoria Canning introduces her new book Gendered Harm and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System.

Recognising structural violence is no easy feat. In his seminal essay, Violence, Peace and Peace Research, Johan Galtung argued that, ‘Violence is here defined as the cause of the difference between the potential and the actual, between what could have been and what is’ (1969: 168). This sets up a tricky task as far as research goes: how can we practicably and empirically evidence the difference between the potential and the actual, if we can never know what the potential could have been?

This is precisely what the book Gendered Harm and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System has aimed to do. By drawing together analyses of policy with domestic and international legislation relating to refugee status and torture, alongside the lived experience of women seeking asylum, my research has addressed what is supposed to exist with regard to sanctuary and support, and what actually exists in reality. Using activist participation over a ten year period in the North West of England, alongside scores of interviews, multiple focus groups, and an oral history project, this book challenges the myth that Britain is a  broadly ‘friendly’ or supportive environment for people seeking asylum.

Using Social Harm as Social Evidence

As the title suggests, a central argument I am making is that the structural conditions set for people seeking asylum create a harmful environment, and this environment has gendered implications. Hillyard and Tombs argued social harm can be divided into a number of categories – physical harms, emotional harms and economic harms to name but three. As the book argues, these can come in many guises for people seeking asylum and range from a lack of medical or psychological support, specifically for survivors of violence or torture; extreme hunger or malnutrition; or illness induced from poor housing conditions. People seeking asylum receive around £36 per week to buy food, clothes, transport. Every week in a group I work with, women and children seem to arrive worse off – food prices have increased significantly in Britain due to inflation, but welfare allowance remains a pittance. Travel can be a no-go since a bus ticket eats around 2/3rds of the daily allowance, which affects women’s capacity to engage in sexual or domestic violence services. Women regularly walk miles to shop for groceries, prams and children in tow, to make sure their financial scraps can stretch to basics.

For people whose application has been refused and are submitting an appeal and do not receive Legal Aid, this is supposed to cover extortionate legal fees. The most recent quote I have seen for a solicitor to appeal a negative decision was £1600 – around 44 weeks of saving, if you opt out of eating altogether. Whilst this might seem an exaggerated comment to make, it is actually happening – I recently asked a woman awaiting an appeal how she planned to pay her legal fees. She told me, ‘you just eat less’. The alternative option is illegalised and precarious work (people seeking asylum have no right to employment, so are forcibly dependent on state welfare) which, for women, is often sexualised. Housing – one of the biggest problems people face – is usually in the poorest areas of the most deprived cities in the UK (as I have also argued elsewhere). As this book shows quite clearly, xenophobic and Islamophobic abuse is common place and housing conditions range from acceptable to dire, with heating problems, infestation (rats, slugs and cockroaches), and chronic damp being the most common problems research participants faced.

Autonomy harms, relational harms and temporal harms

Whilst these forms of harm are quite visible, they are not all necessarily experiences which are confined to life in asylum. Similar aspects have long been the staple diet of many of the poorest people in the poorest areas of the UK and as Cooper argues, the violent financial decisions taken in the aftermath of the so-called financial crisis have compounded many people’s experiences of hunger, destitution and housing. To consider the peculiarities of asylum, the book expands this lens to include three further harms: autonomy harm, relational harm (see Pemberton) and temporal harm.

Autonomy Harm

The first of these, autonomy harms, affect a person’s self-worth or esteem, and can result from role deprivation and the absence of available opportunities to engage in productive activities. People seeking asylum are structurally limited on what they can do with their lives for the period of time in which they seek asylum.  From the offset, people are dispersed to areas of the UK over which they have no choice. Working is legally prohibited, Higher Education is not affordable and the limitations on welfare allowance – half of that of Jobseekers Allowance – means options for most social activities are not actually an option. More insidiously, the threat of detention – a proliferating confinement estate in the UK – or further dispersal hang like a spectre of social control, increasing fear and anxiety amongst people at every Home Office signing.

Relational harm

The second example, relational harms, include enforced exclusion from social relationships, and harms of misrecognition (such as misrepresentations of particular social groups in society, as Pemberton also showed). When women, men or unaccompanied minors leave their countries of origin, many of their relationships and friendships are affected or dissolved completely. Other relational harms are, however, directly the result of policy and practice. Within Britain and the UK more generally, the impact of spatialised controls outlined above is perhaps the most obvious form of relational harm, since the climate of such controls has the capacity to limit an individual’s relationships, friendships or support networks outside of their immediate living vicinity. Relational harms are also strongly connected to emotional harms: support networks, friendships and activist involvement are impeded by some of the many barriers women seeking asylum face and yet each of these can be particularly important for women’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Deportation – a unique aspect of life for immigrants, and one which is central to the control of people seeking asylum – is perhaps the ultimate embodiment of relational harm, holding the potential to pull people from families, networks and communities on a permanent basis.

Temporal Harm

The final focus relates to the impacts of control over time. Applying for asylum the UK can be an incredibly complex and daunting process. At a port or airport, it is deciding to who or where to tell a uniformed guard that you require refugee status, or – if you are in the country already – knowing where to even go. For survivors of sexual or domestic abuse or torture – disproportionality women – add to that the requirement to disclose instances of abuse. To a stranger. The odds can be stacked from the offset. As the diagram below shows (please click on the image to download a larger, clearer file), it can also be an incredibly long process, regularly taking years:


To give an idea of just how long this can take, in one focus group with five women from four countries in 2014, I asked how long each had been awaiting a final asylum decision. One had been in the asylum system since 2013, one since 2012, one since 2009, one since 2010 and one since 2002. That is an accumulation of 24 years of waiting in only one small group.

It is perhaps then the issue of time which is most difficult for people seeking asylum. Years of life can go by – as one woman told me, ‘the best years of my life are gone’ – and what sits in place of autonomy and rights is restriction and unknowing. The terms ‘languish’ and ‘limbo’ can seem over-used in this context, but the fact is that this is how asylum is experienced. Whilst emotional and physical harms might be experienced by broader groups in society, temporal harm can compound such problems for people in the asylum process: physical and mental illnesses are exacerbated by the constant sense of unknowing, and the multiple structural conditions which limit people’s quality of life can also increase feelings of isolation, fear and even suicidality.

It is between the structural conditions of asylum and the lived realities of those facing it that structural violence and social harm therefore join. To draw from the books’ preface by Mary Bosworth, Current policies are not inevitable, nor are they just.  They are instead political choices that could be made otherwise. 

Victoria Canning is a Lecturer in Criminology at The Open University. At present she is leading an ESRC Future Research Leaders project examining harmful social practices in asylum processes in Britain, Denmark and Sweden. She is an activist in Merseyside, and is also currently working with Migrant Artists Mutual Aid to develop a collaboratively produced book (with women seeking asylum) relating to mutual aid and resistance.

Her new book Gendered Harm and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System, (2017) published by Routledge is available to buy in Hardback or ebook: https://www.routledge.com/Gendered-Harm-and-Structural-Violence-in-the-British-Asylum-System/Canning/p/book/9781138854659

Preview available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Gendered-Structural-Violence-Routledge-Citizenship/1138854654/ref=sr_1_2/261-3207680-5391316?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491289959&sr=1-2

Blazing the Neoliberal Trail: Tim Weaver’s Response to Jonathan Davies

In this post Tim Weaver responds to Jonathan Davies’ review of his recent book ‘Blazing the Neoliberal Trail’.

I would like thank Jonathan for his stimulating reactions to my book and the opportunity of offering this response. I will focus primarily to two key points he raises. The first concerns the question of periodization. As Jonathan rightly points out, I suggest that the 1970s was the “pivotal decade”—to borrow Judith Stein’s phrase—for the shift to neoliberalism. However, Jonathan notes that “the break with the post-war order was implicit in the emerging political and economic zeitgeist of 1960s for both left and right.” He is right to argue that neoliberal ideas were beginning to take root in the 1960s and that business mobilization occurred in the U.K. and the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s, as elites were forced to consider alternatives to the Keynesian regime of capital accumulation.

That said, my aim in the book—as Jonathan anticipates in his review—was to locate the period at which neoliberal ideas became politically consequential, that is when they became reflected in institutionally and ideologically durable ways. There were examples of experiments with neoliberal policymaking in the 1960s and the book might have been strengthened by illuminating of the connective tissue that links the proto-neoliberal efforts of the 1960s with those that came later as Jonathan suggests. That said, these neoliberal experiments, often proved abortive as leaders of both main parties in both countries became ultimately unwilling to jettison Keynesian approaches to economic policy until well into the 1970s, which drew sharp rebuke from neoliberals. Examples include Nixon’s wage and price controls and Heath’s retreat from proto-neoliberal macroeconomic policy in 1972 when unemployment hit one million—it was not yet a “price worth paying.” Heath’s famous U-turn illustrates the degree to which neoliberal remedies were perceived to be politically untenable by British elites into the 1970s, even on the right. Anecdotally, it is worth noting that Richard Nixon averred in 1971 that “I am a Keynesian in economics” and that Keith Joseph maintained that he was only “converted to conservatism” in 1974. Moreover, in the U.S., redistributive urban spending and all manner of urban programs accelerated markedly during the Johnson administration, with federal aid to cities reaching its apotheosis in the late 1970s, all developments I would characterize as at odds with the neoliberal turn that would follow.

The second major point that Jonathan raises concerns my characterization of the state. He points out correctly that my book draws a distinction between the capitalist class and state actors, who I suggest enjoy a degree of autonomy from societal interests. As such, my analysis allows that the state within the capitalist system may not necessarily operate as “the capitalist state.” By contrast, Jonathan maintains that it may be more fruitful to think about the state as an inherent part of the capitalist system. While this issue regrettably does not receive detailed treatment in the book, my position is that the state under capitalism does indeed act disproportionately in the capitalist interest. However, despite this bias, there is nevertheless space for state actors—operating from their own ideological convictions, or from pressure from anti-capitalist groups (such as trade unions)— to pursue policies that are contrary to the interests of capital. Moreover, I view the state itself as a multifaceted set of institutions that operate in a variety of domains to advance different interests, some of which might not be characterized as capitalist. This is especially evident with respect to the American state, with its multiple, overlapping nodes of authority and cross-cutting purposes. To give an example, in the 1980s, the same “state” was issuing social security checks to the elderly and food stamps to the poor while attacking the air traffic controllers, slashing urban spending, and using monetarism to squeeze the life out of the economy. These contradictory positions risk elision by the “capitalist state” characterization. The theoretical orientation I have followed demands that researchers spell out the processes by which certain policies become adopted and institutionalized rather than assuming that they are necessary a reflection of capitalist imperatives.

On a related note, it is important to consider that even within the capitalist class there is likely to be disagreement about the most effective mode of capital accumulation, especially during periods of uncertainly such as that which emerged in the 1970s (or, for Jonathan, in the 1960s). Hence, even if one were to grant that the state operates throughout the post-war period as an integral part of the capitalist system, the shift from a Keynesian capitalist state to a neoliberal is one that requires examination and explanation. Given the uncertainly among capitalists about how to deal with falling rates of capital accumulation, material explanations of why the neoliberal variety of capitalism took hold fall short. As Mark Blyth has shown a complete account requires an ideational dimension.

My position on the state and the role of ideas brings us finally to the question of whether my analysis might be compatible Marxist analysis. I am not certain. I maintain that politically consequential ideas can emerge independently of material interests. I am leery of accounts that reduce ideology to its function of reflecting materially derived imperatives, though it very often works in this way.  Thus, to the extent that political development can be propelled by ideas that are, or become, unmoored from capital, my account is compatible with Marxist analysis. But would this move not be antithetical to the materialist foundation on which Marxism rests? I hope in future projects to probe this question far more deeply and may enlist Jonathan’s help as I do!

Dr. Timothy Weaver is Assistant Professor in Political Science at the University of Louisville.

Blazing the Neoliberal Trail: Review by Jonathan Davies

Professor Jonathan Davies continues our second installment of CURA’s book debates by share’s his thoughts on Tim Weaver’s recent book ‘Blazing the Neoliberal Trail‘. This post will be followed by a final reply from Tim int he forthcoming weeks.

It was a great honour to debate Tim’s new book at the annual meeting of the Urban Affairs Association earlier this year.  The book announces Tim as an important new thinker in the field or urban political economy.  It was a pleasure to read a deeply learned piece of work presented with erudition and lightness of touch.  Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned from the book concerns the dynamics and temporalities of policy transfer.  We tend to assume that because the UK likes to borrow (ever more right wing) policies from the USA, that the USA was the main trailblazer in neo-liberal urban policy.  In fact, Tim shows that the UK was able to outpace the USA, because its centralized and hierarchical political traditions made this easier to accomplish.  More broadly, these differentiations show why an urban focus is so important for getting to grips with the epidemiology, variegation, hybridity and contestation of neoliberalism.

The main question I have about the book concerns the way different disciplinary perspectives open up different temporal understandings of neoliberalism.  I pick up on a striking phrase in Tim’s conclusion in relation to the class politics of neoliberalism. He argues that the “bourgeoisie was not knocking on doors”, demanding enterprise zones and urban development corporations.  These initiatives were driven politically, and hence Marxist conceptions of capital and class do not really help us understand them.  Tim accordingly emphasizes the role of policy ideas and entrepreneurs, and the way in which different configurations of institutions and traditions were more or less open to change.  These factors undoubtedly matter a great deal, but I do not think they are incompatible with a Marxist analysis, rooted in the ideas circulating and gathering force during the emerging social and economic crises of the 1960s.

From a sociological perspective, Boltanski and Chiapello argued in The New Spirit of Capitalism, that by the 1960s, the bourgeoisie was indeed clamouring for change, hankering to be free from the stultifying command structures associated with Fordist development and the Weberian political order.  But, it is notable that similar ideas were also incubating in the British Labour Party and US Democrats, through Harold Wilson’s “white heat of the technological revolution”, and John. F. Kennedy’s “new frontiers”. So, from the standpoint of ideas, the break with the post-war order was implicit in the emerging political and economic zeitgeist of 1960s for both left and right.  Ultimately, for reasons beyond the scope of this discussion, the neoliberals succeeded in appropriating this spirit and translating it into the policy agendas Tim discusses at length in the book.  Two points follow.

First, governments and corporations were both influenced by proto-neoliberal ideas and sentiments well before the 1970s and 80s and sought to organize around them.  It is here that we find the roots of the crisis of the post-war order and of neoliberal transformation.  Tim might respond, correctly, that neoliberal ideas did not fully grip on the terrain of politics and policy until much later – and after many brutal struggles.  However, the second and crucial point is that looking at the 1960s shows that neoliberalism was indeed a class project and why a sharp analytical distinction between state and capital is problematic. There is a tacit pluralism in Tim’s approach, which does not sit easily with his general political orientation. If instead we treat capitalist states as part of the capitalist system, it is easier to see why “progressive” political leaders would be dazzled by a “new spirit of capitalism” promising social and economic renaissance – and for reasons that have little to do with political pressure from the bourgeoisie.  Of course corporations try to influence governments, but the absence of such lobbying does not mean class power is not central. Class operates in many more-or-less subtle ways.  My argument is that an appreciation of how different classes responded to the burgeoning crises of the 1960s is critical for understanding the ideas and policies of later trailblazers of neoliberalism, so deftly analysed in this important volume.

Blazing the Neoliberal Trail: Timothy Weaver

In this post Timothy Weaver begins our second installment of our ‘book debates’ series, by outlining the main argument of his recent book ‘Blazing the Neo-liberal Trail‘, where he charts the development of neo-liberal hegemony in the UK and the US through urban politics and policy making perspective. In a forthcoming post Jonathan Davies will share his thoughts on this work, and Timothy will then publish a reply.

During the 1970s, the US and the UK grappled in strikingly similar ways with a set of economic problems that American liberalism and British social democracy failed to counter: stagflation, rising unemployment, and the corresponding erosion of elite consensus over economic policy. Out of this morass, neoliberalism emerged as an ideology and set of policy prescriptions that became adopted by a series of governments, beginning with the center-left administrations of Jimmy Carter and Jim Callaghan, and then in full force under governments of the right led by Margaret Thatcher in the U.K. and Ronald Reagan in the U.S. In Blazing the Neoliberal Trail, I use urban politics and policymaking to chart the rise and effects of the neoliberal embrace both in the realm of national urban policymaking and through case studies of Philadelphia and London Docklands.

Blazing makes two key arguments. First, I focus on policies such as enterprise zones and urban development corporations to suggest that the timing, extent, and character of neoliberal urban policymaking was shaped by the manner in which national and subnational institutional structures mediated the influence of neoliberal ideas and the policy entrepreneurs who promoted them. To echo Robert Lieberman’s (2011) formulation, while ideas provided the “motive,” institutions offered the “opportunity” for neoliberalization of urban policy. Thus, in the U.K., the ideologically motivated Thatcher government was able to exploit its institutional advantages—unified and centralized governmental structures—to rapidly transform urban policy. Hence, the enterprise zone policy bore a strong resemblance to the neoliberal idea that people such as Sir Peter Hall and Lord (Geoffrey) Howe had in mind. By contrast, neoliberal policy entrepreneurs such as Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp encountered resistance as Democrats, initially hostile to urban neoliberalism, exploited the institutional advantages afforded to them by the system of separation of powers and divided government. As such, the enterprise zone policy was stymied in Congress and could only gain a foothold at state and local levels where the program was often watered-down thereby sometimes deviating from the original neoliberal design.

The second central argument of the book is that, in part due to differing institutional contexts, neoliberalization has occurred by two distinct logics. The first, which I term neoliberalism by design, refers to the process by which political actors exploit the power of state institutions to impose a neoliberal blueprint. The case of London Docklands reflects this pattern of development. By contrast, the Philadelphia example reveals a logic of neoliberalism by default. In this case, neoliberalization takes a more serpentine path. Due to federalism, neoliberal designs could not be forced on Philadelphia by actors in Washington D.C. Rather, fiscal constraints—of local and national origin—the challenges of coalition building, and ideological constriction pushed the city in a neoliberal direction despite the fact that many of the key policymakers were not ideologically committed to a neoliberal program.

Dr Timothy Weaver is Assistant Professor in Political Science at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Taking Power Back: Response by Simon Parker

This post is the latest in the series debating Simon Parker’s recent book ‘Taking Power Back‘. The debate began with an outline by Simon of the main argument of his book, followed by a response by Jonathan Davies and Adrian Bua from CURA. In this post Simon highlights areas where our thoughts overlap and diverge. If you are interested in contributing to the debate further please email adrian.bua@dmu.ac.uk.

The striking thing about Jonathan and Adrian’s article is how much we agree on the fundamentals. We are clear that Britain’s mix of the big central state and free market economics has not delivered on its promises. And I think we broadly agree that a politics of commonism – the creation of a vastly expanded realm of self-help, mutual aid and social enterprise – represents a credible and desirable way to secure social progress in new times.

The challenge I have been posed is less about the ‘what’ and more about the ‘how’. Jonathan and Adrian are right to ask how we get from a world where power and assets are overwhelmingly enclosed by the state and market, to one in which commoning becomes, well, commonplace. They argue that far from encouraging mutual aid, the British state is more often engaged in expanding the reach of profitable activity while simultaneously choking off the social sector through austerity. Is my vision of the creative commons not pure idealism without some sort of struggle against the power of capital?

One of the challenges I face in answering this is that I am deeply suspicious of top down, structural change. I do not have some kind of Marxian revolution in my back pocket. They tend to end badly. Instead, I think commonism will emerge from decentralised trial and error in the real world. But I accept the charge that my bottom-up approach runs slap bang into some very big and ugly vested interests in both the state and the business world. The commons is not the strongest force in society, but where I differ from Jonathan and Adrian is that I think this might already be starting to change.

My first reason for hope is that commoning is already starting to grow in the midst of the very neoliberalism Jonathan and Adrian decry. Take, for instance, the 25% boom in the number of co-ops over the three years from 2010, or the 10% growth in community businesses over 2015. These organisations are generally not old-school charities funded by grants, but organisations which use their community roots and freedom from shareholder demands to develop innovative business models in response to local needs and demands.

My second reason for optimism is the fact that the economy is starting to change in ways which might favour commoning. I am hardly the first person to point to the rise of automation, which has the potential to destroy a vast number of jobs without replacing all of them. This reduction in paid labour is a horror for the old Labour movement, but when you think about it a world with fewer of what David Graeber calls ‘bullshit jobs’ is hardly a bad thing.  Imagine more people, with more free time and vastly cheaper goods and services, searching for more meaning in their lives.

My third reason for hope is that I can already see some of the institutional changes that might help to unlock a world of commonism. The first plank in my agenda is a universal basic income, both to manage the economic consequences of automation and to liberate people to pursue more meaning free from the demands of paid labour. This is the key policy change which would turn a dystopian world of mass unemployment into a world where work became more like play (and the commons is the perfect space to play in).

I think we need a new public service architecture which actively encourages commoning. This means city-level social investment funds which can support the early stages of commons-based organisations, governed by the public, private and commons sectors to ensure that the money flows towards their shared priorities. Local authorities and others need to direct their commissioning to spotting and scaling up the parts of the commons that work best.

My response to the question of how we grow the strength of the commons is to transform the role of government into growing and protecting the realm of mutual aid. This will help to grow a strong and independent domain of community ownership. My answer to austerity is that a smaller state might be a good thing as long as we also have a smaller private sector and much more social activity in-between them. Commonism is not a utopian project, but a practical route through which ordinary people can adapt their lives to a changing economic context.

Simon Parker is director of the New Local Government Network and a leading expert in public policy, public services and government.

Reclaiming Local Democracy: Ines Newman

In this post Ines Newman describes the argument of her recent book “Reclaiming local democracy: a progressive future for local government“. Ines argues against the market fundamentalism informing the changes in British local government since the 1980’s, outlines an ethical framework to guide decision making by local politicians and argues for a vibrant, and genuine, participatory democracy.

Local government has become increasingly dominated by what George Soros, Joseph Stiglitz and others have called ‘market fundamentalism’. It was Nicholas Ridley (then Environment Secretary with responsibility for local government) who proposed in 1988 that the local state should be an ‘enabler’. Councillors should meet once a year to hand out contracts to the private sector. New Labour furthered this approach, suggesting that ‘community leadership’ and ‘place-shaping’ were the new roles and local authorities should not get distracted by service delivery. This could be left to managers with pressure to perform to targets set by central government. Finally, the Coalition Government has argued that local government should not deliver any services directly but should ‘be excellent and open commissioners of those services which cannot be devolved to individuals and communities.’

In my book, Reclaiming Local Democracy: A progressive future for local government, I argue that the impact of all this has been negative in three ways.   Firstly there is a confused focus on ‘what works’, with limited consideration of the question ‘works for whom?’ The focus is usually on symptoms rather than causes and decision-making is technocratic, concentrating on efficiency and cost.

Secondly, there has been increased marketisation of public services. Michael Sandel has argued that in the USA you can currently buy most things, from prison-cell upgrades to your doctor’s mobile phone number. Market values have come to play a greater and greater role in social life, corroding the way we value public goods, and increasing inequality.

These consequences lead to the third problem:  a growing lack of trust in representative democracy. If decision-making is technocratic and public goods no different from private goods, what is the role of the councillor? ‘Politics’ becomes a dirty word. Instead we are taught to value ‘hard working’ individuals or volunteers, ‘ordinary people’ who do not need public services.

To turn this around, I have argued that local government needs to reignite an interest in political and ethical questions and support participative democracy.

In the book, I draw on political philosophy to argue that local authorities have an obligation to tackle injustice. I develop an ethical framework in the form of a set of eight principles that can be used to interrogate a policy to see if it would shift society from’ how things are ‘to how they ought to be’. The book contains many examples- from fairness commissions to support for new universal free school meals- showing the way local authorities can operationalise these principles.

Localism is a hollow concept. You will always need strong central government to tackle inequality. So the issue is not about devolving minor powers with limited funding. It is about opening up central government to the influence of joint campaigns run by local councillors with their constituents. This would help to reclaim democracy. It requires councillors to promote active citizens and participative democracy and, with their communities, to seek to influence the national agenda, so as to achieve progressive change.

These are profoundly different approaches to local government and have many implications which are discussed further in the book. The enabling council sees its role as ‘smart commissioning’ and reducing cost and in this process undermines an understanding of public goods, community and democracy. The ethical and democratic local authority is focussed outwards, listening to the voices of those who are usually not heard and discussing with their constituents how to make a better world. These processes cement an understanding of citizenship and the common good and make it possible to start to struggle to reclaim local democracy.

Ines Newman is an Honorary Visiting Senior Research Associate at the Department for Politics and Public Policy at DMU and a core member of the CURA team. Ines is a leading expert in local government and public policy and a trustee of the Paddington Development Trust