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Tech City: exploring the operation and governance of inner east London’s digital cluster

Jones, EM; (2017) Tech City: exploring the operation and governance of inner east London’s digital cluster. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This project explores the operation and governance of Tech City, a creative-digital industries cluster in inner east London. Since the global financial crisis of 2008, Tech City has risen to prominence in media and political discourse, associated with creative, entrepreneurial activities which take place in an ‘edgy’ part of London. Employing a qualitative mixed methods research design, this study explores the semiotic co-constitution of the cluster and its material underpinnings. Employing and developing ideas from the Cultural Political Economy framework, this study argues that a distinct Tech City ‘economic imaginary’ has been created in post-recession London. In-depth interviews with policymakers, planners and politicians are used to examine the key features of the imaginary and its sedimentation in policies and practices. Archival research and a Critical Discourse Analysis of contemporary documents have been used to explore the selection and retention of hegemonic ideas about place and economic activities, and their enactment in the activities of several state institutions. In-depth interviews with creative-digital businesses and entrepreneurs shed light on the street level operation of Tech City, uncovering the crucial place-based resources drawn upon by firms in their activities. Research has examined Tech City in a post-crisis conjuncture where privatisation, deregulation and fiscal austerity limit the room for manoeuvre available to state institutions. Support for Tech City takes place within a wider planning framework which seeks to intensify market-led real estate development in areas such as inner east London. High and rising land values are causing the displacement and dispersal of firms to more affordable areas. Businesses argue that state agencies could play a role in providing broadband infrastructure and facilitating the provision of affordable suitable premises. This project highlights the disconnection between the semiotic promise of Tech City and the realities on the ground.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Tech City: exploring the operation and governance of inner east London’s digital cluster
Event: University College London
Language: English
Keywords: Tech City, Silicon Roundabout, Economic imaginary, Economic development, Shoreditch
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Planning
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1542210
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