Thirty years of urban regeneration in Britain, Germany and France: The importance of context and path dependency
Progress in Planning journal
autor: chriscouch and etc
It is a little over 30 years since Jim Callaghan's Labour Government passed the 1978 Inner Urban Areas Act. The following year marked a shift in power to Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government and a very different approach to urban regeneration. These developments established and shaped the approach to urban regeneration in England for a generation. The economic context and the urban changes of the 1970s and 1980s and the nature of these responses put England at the forefront of the evolution of this type of urban policy in Europe. It is therefore timely to reflect on 30 years of urban regeneration and to do so from a comparative perspective, setting the English experience alongside that of Germany and France. In this paper the authors compare the experiences of these three countries. The great benefit of international comparison is that it allows the observer to step outside their own institutions and context, to compare with other countries and to look back at their own country from a new, foreign, perspective. The emphasis of this paper is on the contingent and contextualised nature of actions designed to foster urban regeneration. This reinforces the rationale for studying the evolution of this policy field in different nation-state settings
One of the commonly cited advantages of cross-national comparative research as a means of generating understanding and explanations of different social phenomena, is its ability to account for the influence of context in moulding societal responses to different issues. Accordingly, following an introduction, the second part of this paper provides an account of the different national socioeconomic and physical contexts which obtain in each country. This is in turn followed by an explanation of the evolution of urban regeneration policies in each country. Informed by this evidence the paper then offers a comparative discussion of the changing aims, mechanisms and achievements of urban regeneration, and the extent to which policy in each country is path dependent. Through this analysis the paper makes a qualitative contribution to the general theory of urban regeneration rather than offering precise advice on the details of policy and its implementation. Whilst the authors would claim some degree of internationality, there is no doubt that the strongest perspective brought to bear in this comparative study is a English perspective. The strongest conclusions compare English experiences with those of Germany and France, rather than between the latter two countries.