From Spatial Keynesianism
to Post-Fordist Neoliberalism:
Emerging Contradictions in the
Spatiality of the Irish State.
Antipode, 42 (5).
The transition from Fordism to post-Fordism has been accompanied by profound
changes in the spatiality of west European states. The hierarchical, top-down and redistributive
structures that typified the Fordist welfare state have been replaced by more complex spatial
configurations as elements of economic and political power have shifted both downwards
to subnational territorial levels and upwards to the supranational level. A major debate has
developed around the nature of these emerging forms of state spatiality and of the processes
underpinning their formation. This paper examines how these processes have operated in the
particular case of the Republic of Ireland. Here, the spatiality of the state was founded on
a peculiar post-colonial combination of a localised populist politics and a centralised state
bureaucracy. While this arrangement was quite suited to the spatial dispersal of industrial
branch plants which underpinned regional policy in the 1960s and 1970s, it has become
increasingly problematic with the more recent emergence of new trends in the nature and
locational preferences of inward investment. This is reflected in the profound conflicts that have
attended the formulation and implementation of the National Spatial Strategy, introduced in
2002. The result is a national space economy whose increasing dysfunctionality may now be
compromising the very development model upon which Ireland’s recent spectacular economic
growth has been built.
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