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Partnership and policy networks in rural local governance: Homelessness in Taunton

Cloke, Paul, Milbourne, Paul ORCID: and Widdowfield, Rebekah 2002. Partnership and policy networks in rural local governance: Homelessness in Taunton. Public Administration 78 (1) , pp. 111-133. 10.1111/1467-9299.00195

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In this paper we discuss the importance of ‘partnership’ and ‘policy networks’ in the new contemporary governance of rural areas. We use these notions to contextualize the representation of, and policy response to the particular issue of homelessness in the rural service centre of Taunton in Somerset. Here particular partnership networks have been brokered by the local authority which bring together a wide range of business, voluntary and community interests with a stake in the homelessness issue. Strong pre-existing discourses of homelessness in Taunton characterize the issue as one of a town centre problem of ‘beggars, vagrants and drunks’. We offer evidence from the local press to suggest that these discourses have been persistently peddled by particular interests in the town. New forms of partnership were inevitably embroiled with the pursuit of these existing discourses, and contrary voices were unable to redefine existing social relations within policy networks. The evidence from Taunton suggests that where partnership merely involves attempts to repackage existing resources, it seems unlikely that it will fulfil some of the more optimistic claims for a more pluralist form of governance in the local arena.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0033-3298
Funders: ESRC
Date of Acceptance: 11 May 1999
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 11:19

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