The Political Economy of the Northern Powerhouse

Thursday 12th November, 09:00-17:00

White Rose Consortium for the North of England – SPERI workshop

Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences, University of Sheffield, S1 4DP

The outcome of the 2015 general election significantly intensified the pace of devolution to Northern city-regions, as Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced plans for a directly elected mayor in Greater Manchester. This model is expected to provide a blueprint for devolution in other Northern city-regions. The agenda is, in part, a consequence of the further devolution of powers to Scotland in the wake of the Scottish independence referendum. It is also, however, strongly associated with the Conservative Party’s ostensible commitment to economic ‘rebalancing’ as Northern England continues to be relatively excluded from the economic recovery.

The pace of political events has not yet been matched by scholarly attention on Northern England, not least because understanding the Northern Powerhouse agenda poses a series of challenges for social scientists that cannot be swiftly overcome. There is an urgent need to bring together scholarship that focuses on public policy and governance arrangements affecting Northern England, with that which focuses on urban development and economic geography. It is also imperative that scholarship on political, cultural and ideological systems in Northern England is informed by analysis of specific economic activities and economic policy practices (such as labour markets, industrial policy, transport, and housing).

The workshop – organised by Professor Rowland Atkinson, Dr Craig Berry (both University of Sheffield), Dr Richard Hayton (University of Leeds), Dr Arianna Giovannini (University of Huddersfield) and Professor Martin Smith (University of York) – offers an opportunity for inter-disciplinary learning around the broad theme of the political economy of Northern England. Contributions will explore:

  • The uneven and evolving nature of economic life in Northern England, including industrial composition, and the impact of social structures and processes on the Northern economy.
  • The economic relationships between Northern regions, the rest of the UK, and the European and global economies.
  • Approaches to economic development (and its governance) in policy-making processes and/or academic research.
  • The relationship between culture, identity and political processes within or affecting the North, especially in relation to the rise of Englishness as a political identity.
  • The operation of political parties (and their sub-national structures) within political processes within or affecting the North.
  • The relationship between urban development, economic geography and political processes within or affecting the North.
  • The emerging character of UK central government (which will of course retain significant powers over macroeconomic policy) as political authority becomes more localised.
  • Epistemological and methodological issues related to the analysis of the political economy of Northern England.

There is currently an open call for papers for this workshop. To submit an abstract, or for more information, click here.