For thirty years, the British economy has repeated the same old experiment of subjecting everything to competition and market because that is what works in the imagination of central government. This book demonstrates the repeated failure of the 30 year policy experiments by examining three sectors: broadband, food supply and retail banking. It argues against naïve metaphors of national disease, highlights the imaginary (or cosmology) that frames those metaphors, and draws out the implications of the experiment. Discussing the role of the experiments in post-1945 Britain, the book's overview on telecommunications, supermarkets and retail banking, reveals the limits of treatment by competition. Privatisation of fixed line telecoms in the UK delivered a system in which the private and public interests are only partially aligned in relation to provision of broadband. Individual supermarket chains may struggle but the four big UK supermarket chains are generally presented as exemplars because they have for a generation combined adequate profits with low price, choice and quality to deliver shareholder value. The many inquiries into retail banking after the financial crisis have concluded that the sector's problem was not enough competition. In a devolved experiment, socially-licensed policies and priorities vary from place to place and context to context. However, meaningful political engagement with the specifics in the economy will need to avoid losing sight of four principles: contestation, judgement, discussion, and tinkering. While others can be blamed for the failure of the experiments, the political responsibility for the ending and starting another is collectively peoples'.
Andrew Bowman, Ismail Ertürk, Julie Froud, Sukhdev Johal, and John Law
Supermarkets and dairy:
success at the cost of suppliers
Individual supermarketchains may struggle but the four big UK supermarketchains are generally presented as exemplars because they have
for a generation combined adequate profits with low price, choice
and quality so that these retailers deliver shareholder value and serve
customers. This case presents a chain analysis of the sector and tells a
rather different story which is both more complex and much darker. The
business model of the supermarket retailers is a point value success and
The well-being of Europe’s citizens depends less on individual consumption and more on their social consumption of essential goods and services – from water and retail banking to schools and care homes – in what we call the foundational economy. Individual consumption depends on market income, while foundational consumption depends on social infrastructure and delivery systems of networks and branches, which are neither created nor renewed automatically, even as incomes increase. This historically created foundational economy has been wrecked in the last generation by privatisation, outsourcing, franchising and the widespread penetration of opportunistic and predatory business models. The distinctive, primary role of public policy should therefore be to secure the supply of basic services for all citizens (not a quantum of economic growth and jobs). Reconstructing the foundational has to start with a vision of citizenship that identifies foundational entitlements as the conditions for dignified human development, and likewise has to depend on treating the business enterprises central to the foundational economy as juridical persons with claims to entitlements but also with responsibilities and duties. If the aim is citizen well-being and flourishing for the many not the few, then European politics at regional, national and EU level needs to be refocused on foundational consumption and securing universal minimum access and quality. If/when government is unresponsive, the impetus for change has to come from engaging citizens locally and regionally in actions which break with the top down politics of ‘vote for us and we will do this for you’.
Andrew Bowman, Ismail Ertürk, Julie Froud, Sukhdev Johal, and John Law
across sectors or on possible local socio-political
obligations is pushed to the margins. Point value is justified, especially in the private sector, by the economic alibi that there is one
best way to least cost – and this is point value. Furthermore, such
arguments are often plausible because they can only be contradicted
by those with substantial knowledge of sectoral specifics. But if we
attend to those sectoral specifics we quickly find that there are very
often better ways of trading.
For instance, our research into meat supply in the British supermarketchains
collectivist Adolf Berle (1962) had written
of a ‘tacit social contract’ between the corporation and society,
but that seems to have vanished after 1980. Consider, for
example, grocery retailing. In most West European countries,
a handful of supermarketchains like Carrefour and Tesco
built dominant positions on the basis of planning permissions
which give their large, edge-of-town branches first claim on
the grocery spend of households in a locality; nothing was
ever required in return as social quid pro quo.
After privatisation and outsourcing, newly powerful corporate
This book explains the direct link between the structure of the corporation and its limitless capacity for ecological destruction. It argues that we need to find the most effective means of ending the corporation’s death grip over us. The corporation is a problem, not merely because it devours natural resources, pollutes and accelerates the carbon economy. As this book argues, the constitutional structure of the corporation eradicates the possibility that we can put the protection of the planet before profit. A fight to get rid of the corporations that have brought us to this point may seem an impossible task at the moment, but it is necessary for our survival. It is hardly radical to suggest that if something is killing us, we should over-power it and make it stop. We need to kill the corporation before it kills us.
This book explores contemporary urban experiences connected to practices of sharing and collaboration. Part of a growing discussion on the cultural meaning and the politics of urban commons, it uses examples from Europe and Latin America to support the view that a world of mutual support and urban solidarity is emerging today in, against, and beyond existing societies of inequality. In such a world, people experience the potentialities of emancipation activated by concrete forms of space commoning. By focusing on concrete collective experiences of urban space appropriation and participatory design experiments this book traces differing, but potentially compatible, trajectories through which common space (or space-as-commons) becomes an important factor in social change. In the everydayness of self-organized neighborhoods, in the struggles for justice in occupied public spaces, in the emergence of “territories in resistance,” and in dissident artistic practices of collaborative creation, collective inventiveness produces fragments of an emancipated society.
Newspapers, magazines and pamphlets have always been central, almost sacred, forms of communication within Irish republican political culture. While social media is becoming the primary ideological battleground in many democracies, Irish republicanism steadfastly expresses itself in the traditional forms of activist journalism. Shinners, Dissos and Dissenters is a long-term analysis of the development of Irish republican activist media since 1998 and the tumultuous years following the end of the Troubles. It is the first in-depth analysis of the newspapers, magazines and online spaces in which the differing strands of Irish republicanism developed and were articulated during a period where schism and dissent defined a return to violence. Based on an analysis of Irish republican media outlets as well as interviews with the key activists that produced them, this book provides a compelling long-term snapshot of a political ideology in transition. It reveals how Irish Republicanism was moulded by the twin forces of the Northern Ireland Peace Process and the violent internal ideological schism that threatened a return to the ‘bad old days’ of the Troubles. This book is vital for those studying Irish politics and those interestedin activism as it provides new insights into the role that modern activist media forms have played in the ideological development of a 200-year-old political tradition.
when we ask a child where does the food
come from, they will answer from the market or from Walmart
7.3 La Polvorilla’s general assembly meeting place (as well as a soccer field)
Building autonomy in Mexico City
7.4 One of La Polvorilla’s squares
7.5 Part of La Polvorilla’s urban garden
Common spaces of urban emancipation
[American supermarketchain]. We have lost our rural origins,
our farming descent” (Gerardo interview).
Observing architectural elements which usually regulate a clear
and decisively marked transition from outside public space
building and maintaining
that infrastructure is borne by someone other than them. Construction companies that build roads profit directly from this exploitation of labour. Supermarketchains don’t. The supermarketchains, however, require this transport infrastructure in order to move goods from the factory door to the shop floor. They
require this transport infrastructure to enable consumers to get from their homes
to purchase goods in their shops. Capitalists require a legal infrastructure that
guarantees ownership of property, and that regulates industrial relations