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  • The Technological Revolution, Segregation, and Populism – A Long-Term Strategic Response

    David Soskice

    Chapter from the book: Velasco A. & Bucelli I. 2022. Populism: Origins and Alternative Policy Responses.

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    Covid-19 is a threat, but it also creates opportunities for serious thought about the future. Given deep structural problems which have enabled populism to become embedded in England, there is a need to think of a longer-term transformation: not whether but how and where the state comes back in, and how relations between state, markets and planning, city-regions, innovation and universities are reconfigured.

    Historically, the two major populist movements in the advanced world (American in the late 19th century and Germany et al in the 1930s) occurred as a consequence of massive technological changes; the movements were not primarily located in the big cities, and they involved those in previously established but now declining occupations. Populism only disappeared as those populations reduced in size and as those areas changed function or declined much further.

    Responding to the ICT revolution, populism in England (the subject of this paper) locates today in Rodríguez-Pose’s ‘places that don’t matter’ (PDMs), and is reinforced by the deep educational/residential segregation of contemporary society with 50% higher education participation and graduate-intensive big cities. But England seems stuck here and major ‘pathologies’ in the neo-liberal framework are responsible. These include higher education as a competitive market, the separation of cycles and growth in macroeconomic policy, and the reliance on markets with arms-length regulation and de facto absence of government from a shareholder-value maximising private sector. Policy is still short-term and largely made in Westminster despite city-regions. A long-term policy transformation is necessary to restart the ‘transmission belt’ of the ICT revolution. We need developing long-term plans based on city-regional agglomerations, into which core city networks linking knowledge-based companies, research universities and city-regional administrations are integrated; with expanding travel-to-work areas incorporating the ‘places that don’t matter’; and supported by a research-oriented economic policy.

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    Soskice, D. 2022. The Technological Revolution, Segregation, and Populism – A Long-Term Strategic Response. In: Velasco A. & Bucelli I (eds.), Populism. London: LSE Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31389/lsepress.pop.g

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Aug. 9, 2022