Spatial imaginaries and institutional change in planning: the case of the Mersey Belt in north-west England

O'Brien, P. (2019) Spatial imaginaries and institutional change in planning: the case of the Mersey Belt in north-west England. European Planning Studies, 27(8), pp. 1503-1522. (doi:10.1080/09654313.2019.1588859)

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Abstract

One outcome of the increasing spatial sophistication in research on regions is a growing interest in how spatial imaginaries are institutionalized in processes of region-building. This article proceeds from the observation that the Mersey Belt spatial imaginary, in north-west England, exhibits an outstanding degree of durability as compared to other spatial imaginaries in the region. It is hypothesized that the Mersey Belt has come to function as an informal planning institution with which subsequent spatial imaginaries are compelled to engage. In order to test this hypothesis, Neuman's lifecycle theory of institutional change is adapted to examine a spatial imaginary as a planning institution, analyzing the relationship between the Mersey Belt and subsequent spatial imaginaries produced in the region. The article in this way adds to existing theories on the institutionalization of spatial imaginaries. Based on the findings, it is suggested that the Mersey Belt has become embedded within the region's planning culture, such that shifts in the spatial conception of the region based on new economic imaginaries have been expressed through the spatial imaginary of the Mersey Belt.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (grant number ES/ H012141/1).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Brien, Dr Philip
Authors: O'Brien, P.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:European Planning Studies
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0965-4313
ISSN (Online):1469-5944
Published Online:05 March 2019

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