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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Students  /  Myfanwy Taylor

Dr Myfanwy Taylor

Contested urban economies: representing and mobilising London's diverse economy

Supervisors: Professor Jennifer Robinson (Geography) and Professor Michael Edwards (Planning).

Thesis examined by Professor Jane Wills and Professor Sophie Oldfield on 20 September 2017, awarded with minor corrections (pending).


Twitter: @myfanwy_t

Abstract: This thesis builds on the growing interest in the diversity of urban economies as a starting point for more inclusive approaches to urban economic development by exploring the mobilisation of diverse economic actors. Its central innovation is to use the notion of economic performativity and Gibson-Graham’s notion of economic politics to open up the politics of diverse urban economies. By combining activism with research, this thesis not only reveals and explores but also contributes to and strengthens some of London’s emerging economic alliances at metropolitan level and in Tottenham and the London Legacy Development Corporation area, located within two of the ‘Opportunity Areas’ earmarked to play a special role in accommodating London’s growth. The thesis finds that the global city growth model embedded in London’s metropolitan governance arrangements was stretched to its limits under Boris Johnson’s Mayoralty. It suggests that Johnson’s use of London’s low-cost workspace as a release valve for London’s escalating housing crisis accelerated its extension into a workspace crisis. The thesis argues that while the growing pressure on workspace poses a threat to the diversity of London’s economy, it has also mobilised small businesses, industrial firms, migrant and ethnic retailers, market traders and community enterprises and their allies to challenge and develop alternatives to plans and development proposals that ignore, marginalise or threaten to displace them. Through a collaborative action research method inspired by Gibson-Graham’s work, the thesis explores the generative and unfolding process through which diverse economic actors built common ground and solidarity, shared their knowledge and experience and developed visions and propositions for alternative, more inclusive approaches to urban economic development. It reveals that the economic evidence underpinning London’s metropolitan and local plans not only plays a role in supporting dominant approaches but has also become a terrain of contestation and struggle for alternatives.

Links to collaborating groups

Just Space Economy and Planning

Our Tottenham

Wards Corner Community Coalition

Greater Carpenters Neighbourhood Forum


Edwards, M. and Taylor, M. 2017. Re-industrialisation as progressive urbanism: why and how? In: Nawratek, R. (Ed.) Urban Re-industrialization. Punctum Books pp21-28.

Taylor, M. and Edwards, M. 2016. Just Space Economy and Planning: opening up debates on London’s economy through participating in strategic planning. In: Beebeejaun, Y. (Ed.) The Participatory City. Berlin: Jovis pp76-86.

Just Space Economy and Planning. 2015. London for all! A handbook for community and small business groups fighting to retain workspace for London’s diverse economies. Available online at:

Taylor, M. 2014. 'Being useful' after the Ivory Tower: combining activism with research with the Brixton Pound' Area 46:3 pp.305-312. Open Access available at

Taylor, M. 2013. 'Rethinking London's economy and economic future' in S. Bell and J. Paskins (Eds.) Imagining the Future City: London 2062 Ubiquity Press, London pp.131-134. E-book and pdf available at


Participatory Geographies Research Group

International Network of Urban Research and Action