Mind the gap? The persistence of pathological discourses in Urban regeneration policy



Matthews P (2010) Mind the gap? The persistence of pathological discourses in Urban regeneration policy. Housing, Theory and Society, 27 (3), pp. 221-240.;

Urban regeneration policy has historically framed policy problems using a discourse that pathologises areas and spatial communities. Since 2001 in England, and 2002 in Scotland a structural change in policy has occurred where citywide partnerships are now meant overcome structural spatial inequalities, countering pathological explanations. This paper uses historical and discourse analysis to evaluate one of the major community regeneration strategies developed by the Scottish Executive in 2002: Better Communities in Scotland: Closing the Gap. It seeks to ask whether structural change in policy was paralleled by discursive change; what discursive path dependence is evidenced? The text is placed in the historic context of UK urban renewal policies dating back to the launch of the Urban Programme in 1968 and particularly the policy discourse created by the influential Conservative government policy of 1988 New Life for Urban Scotland and the wider discourses of poverty and neighbourhood renewal policy created by Labour governments since 1997. The close textual analysis of the text shows that Better Communities in Scotland continues to pathologise spatial communities. Although this suggests a degree of historical path dependency, the historic breadth of the analysis also problematises simple historical determinism.

Discourse analysis; Regeneration; Scotland; Policy analysis; Path dependency

Housing, Theory and Society: Volume 27, Issue 3

Publication date31/12/2010
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Publisher URL…b0536700362982cd

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Professor Peter Matthews

Professor Peter Matthews

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology