Resilience in the post-welfare inner city

Geoff Deverteuil has a new book out that looks quite interesting.  See his description below…


I wish to draw your attention to my recent book, Resilience in the post-welfare inner city: Voluntary sector geographies in London, Los Angeles and Sydney (Policy Press, May 2015).

For those of you in the London area, there will be a book launch and reception on 8 June at the RGS Lowther Room, from 4:30pm to 6:30pm. The discussant will be Mike Raco from UCL Bartlett School.

The focal point for this book is the ‘how’ of resilience, the on-the-ground processes surrounding the fate of residual inner-city areas deemed ‘service hubs’ (clusters of voluntary-sector organisations) faced with the threat of gentrification-induced displacement. Put as a question, what accounts for their resilience when other arrangements of collective consumption (especially social housing) have been severely curtailed or fallen by the wayside entirely? Even those most convinced of pervasive neoliberalism acknowledge that residual mechanisms of support, survival and ‘staying put’ from bygone eras persist in the city – it is just that they ignore or assume away the resilience inherent in this process, the actual means of resilience, the agents of resilience, the consequences of such resilience and how these tendencies may differ comparatively. These empirical and conceptual gaps map on to five cornerstones that structure the book: neoliberalism, post-welfarism and gentrification as the context and the threat; resilience as the response and the organizing concept; the voluntary sector as the agent; the inner city as the territorial focus; and comparison as the method. Empirically, I was interested in how processes of resilience played out across 10 different inner-city neighbourhoods in three global city-regions (London, Los Angeles and Sydney).

This book also connects to a series of debates. First, I develop what I deem a ‘critical resilience of the residuals’, whereby the relics of previously more equitable (Keynesian) arrangements are protected and defended. Resilience was itself a struggle, with advantages but also disadvantages for the voluntary sector while potentially acting as a springboard to the more transformative notion of ‘commons’. This defense is all the more important at a time when urban life is not only pervasively dynamic and neoliberalized, but also increasingly temporary, in the form of pop-up geographies and an emphasis, via technologies such as Airbnb, on transient users and uses. More pointedly, my work plugs into recent debates over gentrification and displacement, of considering (1) both the advantages and disadvantages of ‘staying put’ and (2) different gentrification models beyond the typical Anglo-American one, via Los Angeles. The wealthier classes can always live where they want – what is more interesting is the ‘staying put’ or displacement of poverty and, crucially, its attendant infrastructure. Further, I present a more ambivalent (if not supportive) version of the voluntary sector, one which works against the punitive or revanchist model, making space for a ‘messy middle’ conception of social policy and poverty management in the city. Finally, my comparative approach valorises overlooked, ordinary agents and practices (of care, sustenance, abeyance) within global-city regions, and propose novel approaches to comparing the voluntary sector and resilience, while also arguing against convergence toward the American welfare state model in Australia and the UK. Accordingly, while the results suggested a wide range of resilience strategies in the three global city-regions, London organizations generally proved more state-supported than Los Angeles’ more private and community-based strategies, with Sydney more in the middle of these extremes.

Here is the official description of the book:

Many thanks in advance for your interest!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s