Dr Joe Penny
Lecturer in Economic Geography
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTelephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2746Room Number: Bancroft Building, Room 2.10
My research interests sit between urban economic geography and urban planning. Drawing on a mixture of qualitative methodologies – including semi-structured interviews, critical policy and discourse analysis, and active participation with community, advocacy, and activist groups – my research explores three main themes: 1) the restructuring of urban governance under conditions of austerity; 2) the financialization of the local state, public land, and housing; 3) the nature and dynamics of urban politics and democracy (see Research tab for futher details).
Advice and Feeback Hours: Mondays 11-12.00 and Fridays, 13.00-14.00
In 2021, I am really excited to be teaching on the following modules:
- GEG5129 Economic Geographies (convenor)
- GEG4006 Cities & Regions in Transition (convenor)
- GEG4106 Reinventing Britain
- GEG7120 Geographical Thought & Practice
My research interests sit between urban economic geography and urban planning. Drawing on a mixture of qualitative methodologies – including semi-structured interviews, critical policy and discourse analysis, and active participation with community, advocacy, and activist groups – my research explores three main themes: 1) the restructuring of urban governance under conditions of austerity; 2) the financialization of the local state, public land, and housing; 3) the nature and dynamics of urban politics and democracy.
Urban governance restructuring under conditions of austerity
The first strand of my research explores the ways in which the local state in England is being reconfigured, and is reconfiguring itself, at a time of ‘austerity urbanism’. Focusing on London, my research considers how the landscape of urban government, the nature of urban policymaking, and the scope of urban politics is changing as a result of a new ‘operational matrix’ shaping local government and pushing towards a contradictory and conflict-ridden assemblage of localism, entrepreneurialism, and financialization. Linking interests in circulating political/policy discourses, institutional change, and specific state practices, my research explores the ‘actually existing’ dynamics of austerity urbanism in London, focusing on: how austerity is being discursively and materially assembled, mediated, and rolled-out; how the local institutional and governance landscape is being remade; and how the scope for local autonomy and the latitude of policy making is changing as a result
The financialisation of the local state, public land, and housing
The second strand of my research engages with new modes and practices of contractualism, privatization, and financialization, and the role of the local state in these. As well as engaging with the politics of property-led development and the role of the planning system in facilitating this, my research identifies a new mode of urban entrepreneurialism in London through the state-executed, real-estate based, and speculative development and financialization of public land. Drawing on case studies from across London, I explore the on-going development of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to develop mixed-tenure housing on public land – demolishing existing social housing estates, replacing them with mixed-tenure developments, and creating ambiguous public/private tenancies that function as homes and tradable assets in the process. As such, my research engages closely with the novel ways in which the local state in London is mobilizing its land assets, generating new forms of fiscal rent, and enmeshing itself, and its citizens, with financial practices, actors, and institutions.
Urban Politics and Democracy
The third strand of my research contributes to debates on the nature and dynamics of urban politics and democracy, working with post-foundational and feminist theorists and urban studies scholarship inspired by this work. My approach to questions and debates on the nature and dynamics of urban politics is relational and processual; it seeks to understand urban politics and democracy dialectically as always on-going, contingent, and contested processes of policing and politicization, in which neither can be fully comprehended without the other and in which each always frustrates the full realization of the other. These conceptual debates are empirically operationalized in my research through a focus on how people in London are participating in and contesting the local state, and their private sector partners, as they (re)produce housing insecurity, engender novel forms of land speculation and financialization, and push through urban redevelopment projects with displacing effects. My research seeks to better sense, and make sense of, the complex and oftentimes contradictory practices of citizen and community participation, counter-conduct, and resistance as always potentially political.
- Penny, J. (2021) 'Revenue Generating Machines'? London's local housing companies and the emergence of local state rentierism. Antipode (Online First)
- Penny, J. (2020) Defend the Ten: Everyday dissensus against the slow spoiling of Lambeth’s Libraries. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
- Penny, J & Richter, A (2018) The ambivalent and undecided (dis)order of things, City, 22, 5-6: 609-611. DOI: 10.1080/13604813.2018.1571771
- Beswick, J & Penny, J (2018) ‘Demolishing the Present to Sell Off the Future? The Emergence of ‘Financialized Municipal Entrepreneurialism’ in London’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 42, 4: 612-632.
- Penny, J (2017) ‘Between Coercion and Consent: The politics of ‘Cooperative Governance’ at a time of ‘Austerity Localism’ in London’, Urban Geography 38, 9: 1352-1373.
- Penny, J (2017) ‘The cooperative or ‘cop-out’ council? Urban politics at a time of ‘austerity localism’ in London’, The Urban Political: Ambivalent Spaces of Late Neoliberalism (eds.) Enright, T. & Rossi, U. Palgrave, in press
- Penny, J (2016) ‘The post-politics of fiscal retrenchment: Managing cities and people in a context of austerity urbanism’, Schonig, B and Schipper, S (eds.) Urban Austerity: Impacts of the global financial crisis on cities in Europe, Theater de Zeit: Berlin, Germany.
- Penny, J (2016) Review of ‘Resilience in the Post-Welfare Inner-City: Voluntary sector geographies in London, Los Angeles and Sydney’ by DeVerteuil, G (2015) RGS Urban Geography Research Group Book Review Series.
- Coote, A & Penny, J (2014) ‘The Wrong Medicine: a review of the impacts of NHS reforms in England’, New Economics Foundation.
- Penny, J (2013) ‘Public services and (in)equality in a time of austerity’, The British Council.
- Slay, J & Penny, J (2013) ‘Surviving austerity: Local voices and local action in England’s poorest neighborhoods’, New Economics Foundation.