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Call for Papers

The Shrinking State?

Across the globe, the public sector is under assault. There are variations across and within nations in how this plays out, but the arms of the state that protect the social safety net and citizens' well-being are especially at risk. Shifts in the state's role can be seen in cuts to social programmes, reduction in public sector jobs, underfunded infrastructure, the selling off pf assets and other privatisations, the weakening of regulatory authority, and the overall diversion of resources to the private sector. While these trends are often interpreted as part of the fallout from the Great Recession, they have been observed across localities and regions for many decades but have gained momentum in recent years. It is not clear how widespread these trends are, if they will escalate, and whether they represent a new phase in neoliberal development whereby capitalist elites have gained massive bargaining power relative to labour and citizens and fundamentally altered the role of government at all spatial scales. Even local governments that were once considered recession-proof in the case of the United States have experienced dramatic cutbacks. While many parts of the traditional national and local state have contracted, other parts of the public sector have expanded. For example, different elements of the "security state" have expanded both their budget and their remit.

This Special Issue will explore how has the social contract between citizens, government, and private sector shifted or been broken? To what degree, why, and where is the public sector shrinking? At what scale of the state from central to local have changes been greatest? What does the future hold in terms of public sector resistance and acquiescence to these trends?

This issue will address the big debates about the role of the public sector in society at the level of regions and localities. We are particularly interested in theoretical work that has a strong empirical foundation. We are also looking for work that pushes existing frameworks in new directions and tackles new or unresolved issues about the public sector. Strong empirical research that elaborates, challenges or otherwise evaluates claims derived from theory from various literatures is also of interest. Finally, articles that provide a conceptual blueprint for studying the processes by which the state is changing are also welcome. CJRES has previously published Special Issues addressing “The Geographies of Austerity" (iv/3, November 2011) and "Austerity in the City" (vii/1, March 2014), and we will continue further push forward new directions in the analysis of the state in society.

Guidelines for submissions

Authors interested in contributing to this special issue are invited to submit abstracts of up to 400 words by email to Francis Knights at landecon-cjres@lists.cam.ac.uk no later than 1 March 2017.

Selected authors will be invited to submit papers following the Editors’ selection from these initial Abstracts. Full papers would be due by 1 September 2017, and all submissions will be subject to the normal peer review process. Accepted papers will be included in the Special Issue, scheduled for publication in November 2018.

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