Towards safe city centres? : remaking the spaces of an old-industrial city.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Situated at the intersection of economic restructuring and crime control, this thesis explores the practices and policies of economic regeneration, community safety and policing in the city of Glasgow. In particular old-industrial cities and regions have felt the pressures to ‘revitalise’ and regenerate their failing economic base, as well as to change the modalities of governance, and subsequently embarked upon local economic development and attracting growth industries. Examining the interest in quality-of-life offences within such regeneration agendas, my thesis explores the importance of crime control, policing and community safety in a series of empirical ‘cuts’ through the subject, starting with wider issues of crime control, imagineering and city centre upgrading. Practices of regulating city spaces are carried out in distinctive fields of community safety policies, the policing of homeless people and street prostitutes, and also include the regulating of businesses in the wake of economic regeneration. Furthermore, a city centre warden project, the City Centre Representatives, is studied in detail in relation to their work remit, encompassing a tourist service as well as a range of ordering tasks in the newly regenerated spaces of the city centre.
Explicitly framing these substantive debates in a theoretical context, the first part of the thesis engages in questions of social ontology, working towards a research perspective of a reworked critical Marxism. Such critical Marxism is arrived at by discussion of current approaches, both in policy and academy, of how to account for processes of economic restructuring and crime control in late-capitalist societies. While maintaining concepts of a(n), although fragmented, social totality, held together in dialectical processes, social praxis as mediation between social totality and agency becomes the central hinge for researching such ontology. As embodied, routine and partially reflected upon social practices that centre on people’s work practices, such social praxis is subsequently spatialised by drawing on Lefèbvre’s work on the production of social space and employed in a detailed empirical study. In so doing, this thesis puts forwards a proposal of how a reworked critical Marxism can fruitfully engage with current theoretical debates within geography and he social sciences more widely without neglecting the importance of in-depth empirical research to develop and strengthen any theoretical engagement.
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