Public infrastructure and the future of post-market townsConnecting the foundational economy

Math Papur
Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
StatwsAccepted/In press - 01 Chwef 2020
DigwyddiadRegional Studies Association Annual Conference 2020: Transformations: Relational Spaces, beyond Urban and Rural - Ljubljana, Slofenia
Hyd: 17 Jun 202020 Jun 2020!


CynhadleddRegional Studies Association Annual Conference 2020
Teitl crynoRSA20
Cyfnod17 Jun 202020 Jun 2020
Cyfeiriad rhyngrwyd
Gweld graff cysylltiadau
Fformatau enwi


The foundational economy has been described as the infrastructure of everyday life – material, providential, and mundane. From pipes and cables to roads and rails, the foundational economy’s material dimension takes in the realm of public infrastructure. Yet, public infrastructures are under increasing pressure amidst austerity budgets and socio-economic transitions. This is certainly true for so-called ‘left behind’ places and predominantly rural regions, which typically struggle with the legacies of under-investment and deepening structural and demographic challenges. Can emerging academic thinking on the foundational economy help address the challenges of public infrastructure provision? In this paper, we offer a preliminary theoretical survey and link this with emerging practice in Wales – the first European country to explicitly integrate the foundational economy into national-level policy. Drawing specifically from research through the ROBUST project’s living lab methodology, we offer a case study of the ‘Ten Towns’ regeneration initiative in the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire (Sir Gâr). Led by the local authority, this recent initiative bucks the trend to focus regional policy on agglomerative centres by targeting small towns (<6,000 residents) that have been identified as having a hub role for a wider rural community. We consider: first, how the foundational economy frame brings the needs, challenges and potentials for public infrastructure provision into sharper focus; and, second, the role of towns in rural-urban connectivity.