New State Spaces, Agency and Scale: Devolution and the Regionalisation of Transport Governance in Scotland



Abstract:  New state spaces can be seen as products of the interaction between emerging initiatives and pre-existing institutional arrangements (Peck 1998, Space and Polity 2:5–31). In the devolved territories of the UK devolution has created new political centres of policy formulation and this paper is concerned with how devolved policy initiatives are reshaping and rescaling sub-national spaces of governance. We focus on the rescaling of transport governance in Scotland through a nationally orchestrated process of regionalisation involving the creation of Regional Transport Partnerships (RTPs), an initiative that has been shaped by tensions between changing national political objectives and local interests. Our approach draws on Neil Brenner's “new state spaces” (NSS) framework, which has value in emphasising the historically embedded and path-dependent nature of restructuring processes. At the same time, its abstract nature leads the NSS approach to privilege the broad processes that generate new configurations of state power over the complex politics associated with the restructuring of particular spaces. In response, we suggest a new theoretical synthesis that draws NSS together with the ancillary notions of “regional armatures” and “the politics of scale” to provide a stronger purchase on the political agency and struggles that “form” and “mould” particular spaces.