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Call for Papers

Globalization in Crisis? The Urban and Regional Challenges of the Great Instability

A Celebratory Issue to mark the 10th Anniversary of Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society

Although the process of globalization arguably dates back to the early 18th century, to the beginnings of industrial capitalism if not earlier, over the past 40 years it has not only accelerated but changed dramatically in nature, scope and impact. The revolution in technology, combined with the pursuit by numerous nations and international bodies of a model of pro-market liberalization and privatization, together with the emergence of new forms of production networks and supply chains, and the rise of massive and powerful global monopolies, have all promoted a form of globalization quite different from its antecedents. This model was acclaimed by many, especially those who were its architects and chief beneficiaries, as not only underpinning a new era of post-industrial economic growth and trade, low inflation and credit expansion, but also as finally replacing the very cyclical nature of capitalism itself with a new Great Moderation.

But the financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession of 2008-2010 finally revealed the new global capitalism for what it really was – a highly unbalanced, debt-driven and unsustainable model of economic growth and development, and a model that also diminished environmental resources and undermined adaptive capacities. It was furthermore a model that generated new and increased inequalities, social and spatial, within both the advanced economies and the advancing BRIC countries. While some nations, regions and cities gained from neoliberal globalization, notably the major centres of finance, technology and corporate and political power, other regions and cities, notably those that had led the preceding era of industrial capitalism, have been the losers, suffering from slow growth, lower and stagnant incomes, insecure work and higher unemployment. To compound the growing divides between the winning and losing regions and cities, the costs of bailing out the banking system has fallen mainly on the latter types of areas, as states have cut public expenditures, especially on welfare, as part of their fiscal austerity response to the crisis.

Perhaps not surprisingly, though not widely anticipated by those it benefited, this model is now being increasingly challenged. Populism is on the march, particularly from those communities and groups that feel they have been left behind and marginalized by neoliberal globalization and have borne the brunt of its negative consequences and rapid re-orderings. This populist opposition has taken both right-wing and left-wing forms, and is finding expression in a surge of nationalism and regionalism, and more worryingly, xenophobia. What unites both strands is a disillusionment with major institutions, political parties and political and business elites, particularly those located in the national metropolitan capitals and global ‘hotspots’. These are criticized as having been largely self-serving, remote from the circumstances and needs of less prosperous social groups, cities and regions. The referendum decision in the UK to leave the European Union (the so-called ‘Brexit’), and the surprise election of Republican Donald Trump as US President, are both, in their different ways, expressions of this new anti-establishment, anti-cosmopolitan nationalist populism. The signs are increasingly that the neoliberal model of globalization has not worked, and is in crisis. Macro-economic policy is in disarray. And likewise, the form of economic theory that has held sway over recent decades, and which underpinned neoliberalism economic policy-making, is in disrepute, not just for failing to predict the crisis but for having no real viable response to how to recover from it, nor how to distribute growth more evenly. We have, in short, entered a phase of intense instability and disruption. Has the neoliberal model run its course? Are we witnessing a transition to a different model of economic growth, one that is increasingly closed and protectionist, or one that is potentially more sustainable, equitable, and greener, and based on a different governance architecture? While it is too early to answer this question in any definitive terms, what does seem clear is that return to some sort of ‘pre-crisis norm’ is both unlikely and undesirable. A key question, then, is this: do new realities require new theories, new explanatory schemas and new methodologies, especially if a new policy model is needed.

The aim of this Special Issue is to address this question with respect to our theories, analyses and accounts of uneven regional development. Are our existing theories and concepts adequate to explain the present instabilities and new realties? Or do we need to rethink our interpretive frameworks? Have we focused too much on ever more detailed, specific and locally-orientated narratives at the expense of situating these adequately within more holistic accounts of large-scale systemic processes and structures? To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, we invite contributions that are willing to tackle such issues head-on. The crisis of neoliberal globalization, in all its manifestations, not only poses a challenge to our existing knowledges and approaches, it also provides an opportunity to take stock and rethink the ‘regional studies project’, and how that project might contribute to the search for a new model of economic growth that is more spatially balanced, sustainable and inclusive. Papers are invited that that address this challenge, whether in terms of the challenge for our theories or in the form of analyses of specific empirical issues and problems (such as inequality, financialization, global corporate power, the crisis in state policy and the like).

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 20 March 2017. Authors will be invited to submit papers following the Editors’ selection from these Abstracts. Full papers would be due by 15 August 2017, and all submissions will be subject to a formal peer review process. Accepted papers would be included in the special issue, scheduled for publication in March 2018.

There will also be a 10th Anniversary CJRES conference at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, on the same theme of ‘Globalization in Crisis’ on 13-14 July 2017; see http://www.cpes.org.uk/events/2017globalconference/ for details.

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