The ‘Cooperative’ or ‘Cop-Out’ Council? Urban Politics at a Time of Austerity Localism in London

  • Joe Penny


This chapter theorises ‘the urban political under late neoliberalism’ through an exploration of the linkages between ‘austerity localism’ and urban politics and democracy in local government in London. Drawing on qualitative empirical research, including policy analysis and interviews with local actors and activists, the chapter explores the active role that local government seeks to play in rendering austerity governable and post-political through a revelatory case study of the London Borough of Lambeth’s ‘Cooperative Council’ agenda—an attempt to develop new relationships with citizens through a proliferation of participatory practices. The chapter concludes with reflections on the ambivalent role of local government in furthering progressive political change in London ‘under late neoliberalism’.



This chapter is based on PhD research entitled ‘Downloading austerity: the politics of fiscal retrenchment, state restructuring and localism in London’, generously funded by the ESRC and UCL DTC (ES/J500185/1). In addition to thanking the ESRC and UCL DTC, I would also like to thank Mike Raco, Susan Moore, Theresa Enright and Ugo Rossi for commenting on drafts of this chapter, and all of those who have been good enough to give up their time to speak with me during this project. All inaccuracies are the author’s responsibility alone.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joe Penny
    • 1
  1. 1.Bartlett School of PlanningUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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