Telling the untold story: discourse(s), representation and the 'hybridity' of cultural regeneration

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Culture, creativity and heritage have come to be concomitant with contemporary regeneration discourse and urban policy (see Oakley, 2015). The role of culture is accentuated in the so-called post-industrial epoch in which the symbolic, experience-led economy has risen to prominence over the traditional manufacturing industries (see Zukin, 2011; Miles, 2020). From this perspective, leisure and culture become a crucial component of urban regeneration (Tallon, 2013). However, critique of culture-led regeneration has been ‘manifold and persuasive’ (Oakley, 2015: 2), being linked to gentrification, inter-urban competition and neoliberal urban development (Peck, 2005; Mould, 2018; Aspen, 2013). However, the interaction between culture and regeneration cannot be reduced to the logic of neoliberalism and gentrification. Rather, cultural regeneration can take numerous forms. Culture-led regeneration suggests a more instrumentalised approach in which culture is leveraged as part of a broader economic development agenda (see Mould, 2018). In comparison, cultural regeneration is viewed as a more ‘holistic’ approach that considers the economic, physical and social dimension of place in toto (Oakley, 2015).

In this presentation I explore the findings from my PhD research conducted between 2019 and 2022. Using the Scottish town of Paisley as a case, I will discuss the changing role of culture within the town’s regeneration strategy between 2014 and 2020. Despite a negative area reputation and persistent socio-economic inequality, cultural regeneration has increasingly been utilized by key decision markers as a means to changing Paisley’s reputation in recent years. Using a combination of documentary data, newspaper data and semi-structured interviews held with key decision makers, I outline the emergence of a hybridised form of cultural regeneration in Paisley. Hybridised regeneration, I argue, incorporates the holistic language of cultural regeneration while retaining the logic of a culture-led approach which focuses on flagship capital investment, the visitor economy and inter-urban competition.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2022
EventLeisure Studies Association Annual Conference 2022: In Pursuit of Leisure: Inequality, Storytelling and the Meanings of Place - Falmouth University, Falmouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Jul 202214 Jul 2022


ConferenceLeisure Studies Association Annual Conference 2022
Abbreviated titleLSA 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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