Abstract: This thematic issue explores the role that revived emplacements of manufacturing and “blue-collar” work play in the search for more effective models of urban sustainability, drawing on intriguing developments in different cities of different sizes in different Western societies—the UK, Germany, Switzerland, the USA, and Australia. Rather than see industry as a “problem” for green city strategies, our point of departure considers what role manufacturing and “blue-collar” work can (and do) play in the search for more effective models of urban sustainability. The articles included here deploy a range of research methodologies, albeit with a predominant emphasis on qualitative case studies, to raise key challenges for urban and regional industrial planning. This editorial provides some overarching context and commentary on the topic and specifically discusses three synoptic themes that emerged most prominently from the collection of articles: the difficulty (and importance) of identifying and illustrating the practical sustainability benefits of local manufacturing; the complexity of advancing “conspicuous production” in the urban context; and the need to broaden industrial politics and planning in order to better utilize existing industrial spaces and enhance the role of production in the city. These themes help to capture emerging trends and challenges in the field while providing foundations for future research.
Keywords: blue-collar work; innovation; manufacturing; planning for industry; sustainability