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Frontier financialization : urban infrastructure in the United Kingdom.

Langley, P. (2018) 'Frontier financialization : urban infrastructure in the United Kingdom.', Economic anthropology., 5 (2). pp. 172-184.


This article contributes to critical social scientific understanding of the significance of state power to the furtherance of the financialization of socioeconomic life. Drawing on the poststructural theories of power of Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, the concepts of “diagram” and “dispositif” are developed to foreground how changes in modalities and relations of power are manifest in shifting governmental rationalities and contingent policy interventions that attempt to advance financialization processes. The article's conceptual claims are illustrated through an analysis of the financialization of urban infrastructure that focuses on the United Kingdom's first ever National Infrastructure Plan (NIP), enacted between 2010 and 2015. The NIP is shown to have marked a step‐change in the UK state's approach to the governing of ostensibly public urban infrastructure, one that sought to reconfigure privately owned, market‐operated, and privately financed infrastructures as a “new asset class” to be prospected for value by global investors. As the NIP problematized the private debt financing of urban infrastructure, it was through the diagram of governmental planning that the apparent limit points of financialization processes were identified and confronted, and through specific dispositif that attempts were made to extend the frontier of financialization.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Date accepted:24 November 2017
Date deposited:02 January 2018
Date of first online publication:10 May 2018
Date first made open access:10 May 2018

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