Puzzling Agency in Centre-local Relations: Regulatory Governance and Accounts of Change under New Labour

Steven Griggs, Helen Sullivan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Research Highlights and Abstract: The article seeks to make a contribution in the following areas: It seeks to establish a new research agenda in centre-local relations, which builds on explanations of local practice and the political and affective dimensions of the work of officers and politicians. In so doing, it suggests that we should further dissolve the often over-determined boundaries between the centre and the local. In recasting centre-local relations, it draws particular attention to the capacity of local agency and the role of regulatory intermediaries; it explores such agency through an original case study of the take-up and use of the Power of Well Being. It offers a critical assessment of existing accounts of regulatory governance under New Labour. The UK Coalition's espoused commitment to Localism has re-ignited debates about the state and nature of centre-local relations in England. This article explores this contested space through the practice of regulatory governance under the New Labour government. It identifies two dominant interpretations of centre-local relations under New Labour, which it characterises as state-centric dirigisme and disciplined pluralism. This analysis draws attention to the capacity of local agency to shape the potential and limitations of regulatory governance. This capacity is explored empirically through an examination of the take-up and use of the Local Government Well Being Power introduced in 2000. The article suggests that centre-local relations should be recast to examine critically local practices and the political and affective dimensions of what local officers and politicians actually 'do' and it sets out an agenda for future research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)495-514pp
    JournalThe British Journal of Politics and International Relations
    Volume16
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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