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Places that don`t matter? Socio-economic transformation of industrial towns in Switzerland and Slovenia

English title Places that don`t matter? Socio-economic transformation of industrial towns in Switzerland and Slovenia
Applicant Mayer Heike
Number 192764
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Geographisches Institut Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.11.2020 - 31.10.2023
Approved amount 498'227.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Social geography and ecology
Architecture and Social urban science

Keywords (6)

Socio-economic transformation; Small and medium-sized towns; Innovation dynamics; Industrial towns; Industrial culture; Industrial transformation

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Der Industriesektor macht einen großen Anteil der Beschäftigung in kleinen und mittleren Städten (SMSTs) aus. Dieses Forschungsprojekt wird den industriellen Wandel und die sozio-institutionellen Veränderungen in den SMSTs in der Schweiz und Slowenien untersuchen.
Lay summary

Der Industriesektor macht einen großen Anteil der Beschäftigung in kleinen und mittleren Städten aus (s. Kotzeva et al., 2016). Die akademische Literatur konzentriert sich jedoch tendenziell auf den industriellen Wandel in leistungsfähigen Regionen und großen städtischen Zentren. Politikempfehlungen, die aus solchen "Best-Practice-Modellen" abgeleitet werden, sind für den Kontext der kleinen und mittleren Städte nicht geeignet (s. Florida et al., 2017; Miörner & Trippl, 2019). Forschende sind zunehmend an solchen kleinen und mittleren Städten interessiert, um den politischen Entscheidungsträgern angepasste, ortsbezogene politische Lösungen zu bieten (s. Servillo et al., 2014). Es müssen zusätzliche Forschungsarbeiten durchgeführt werden, um zu verstehen, wie sich der industrielle und sozio-institutionelle Wandel in den kleinen und mittleren Städten vollzieht. In einem vergleichenden Ansatz untersuchen wir die sozioökonomische Transformation von sechs Industriestädten in der Schweiz und in Slowenien. Die Forschungsmethodik besteht aus vertieften, vergleichenden Fallstudienansätzen und partizipativen Workshops, um die Prozesse hinter der sozioökonomischen Transformation der kleinen und mittleren Städte zu identifizieren. Im Forschungsprojekt werden wir versuchen, partizipative Lösungen zur Bewältigung des sozioökonomischen Wandels zu finden. Weiter soll dem zunehmenden populistischen Groll von Bürgern in kleinen und mittleren Städten, die sich im Vergleich zu den Bürgern in städtischen Regionen "als unwichtig empfinden", in gleicher Art begegnet werden (Rodríguez-Pose, 2018).


Florida, R., Adler, P., & Mellander, C. (2017). The city as innovation machine. Regional Studies, 51(1), 86–96. https://doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2016.1255324

Kotzeva, M., Brandmüller, T., Lupu, I., Önnerfors, Å., Corselli-Nordblad, L., Coyette, C., … Wolff, P. (2016). Urban Europe: Statistics on Cities, Towns and Suburbs. Luxembourg: European Union.

Miörner, J., & Trippl, M. (2019). Embracing the future: path transformation and system reconfiguration for self-driving cars in West Sweden. European Planning Studies27(11), 2144-2162.

Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2018). The revenge of the places that don’t matter (and what to do about it). Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 11(1), 189–209. https://doi.org/10.1093/cjres/rsx024

Servillo, L., Atkinson, R., Smith, I., Russo, A., Sykora, L., Demazière, C., & Hamdouch, A. (2014).  TOWN, small and medium sized towns in their functional territorial context. Retrieved from https://www.espon.eu/export/sites/default/Documents/Projects/AppliedResearch/TOWN/TOWN _Case_Study_Report_-_Cyprus.pdf

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.12.2020

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Le secteur industriel représente une part importante de l'emploi dans les villes petites et moyennes. Ce projet de recherche explore la transformation industrielle ainsi que les changements socio-institutionnels des villes petites et moyennes en Suisse et en Slovénie.
Lay summary

Le secteur industriel représente une part importante de l'emploi dans les villes petites et moyennes (voir Kotzeva et al., 2016). La littérature académique a toutefois tendance à se focaliser sur la transformation industrielle dans les régions les plus performantes et les grands centres urbains (voir Florida et al., 2017; Miörner & Trippl, 2019). Les recommandations de politiques politiques dérivées de ces « modèles de bonnes pratiques » sont cependant mal adaptés aux contextes des villes petites et moyennes. Les chercheurs s'intéressent de plus en plus aux villes petites et moyennes afin de fournir aux décideurs politiques des politiques publiques territorialisées (voir Servillo et al., 2014). Toutefois, des recherches supplémentaires doivent être menées pour comprendre comment la transformation industrielle et socio-institutionnelle se joue dans les villes petites et moyennes. En utilisant une approche comparative, nous examinons la transformation socio-économique de six villes industrielles de Suisse et de Slovénie. La méthodologie de recherche est basée sur une approche comparative entre les études de cas et des ateliers participatifs afin d’identifier les processus qui participent à la transformation socio-économique des villes petites et moyennes. Le projet de recherche tentera de fournir des réponses participatives aux enjeux liés à la transformation socio-économique et aux ressentiments populistes des citoyens des villes petites et moyennes qui « sentent que leurs voix n’ont peu d’importance » par rapport aux citoyens des grands centres urbains (Rodríguez- Pose, 2018).

Florida, R., Adler, P., & Mellander, C. (2017). The city as innovation machine. Regional Studies, 51(1), 86–96. https://doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2016.1255324

Kotzeva, M., Brandmüller, T., Lupu, I., Önnerfors, Å., Corselli-Nordblad, L., Coyette, C., … Wolff, P. (2016). Urban Europe: Statistics on Cities, Towns and Suburbs. Luxembourg: European Union.

Miörner, J., & Trippl, M. (2019). Embracing the future: path transformation and system reconfiguration for self-driving cars in West Sweden. European Planning Studies27(11), 2144-2162.

Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2018). The revenge of the places that don’t matter (and what to do about it). Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 11(1), 189–209. https://doi.org/10.1093/cjres/rsx024

Servillo, L., Atkinson, R., Smith, I., Russo, A., Sykora, L., Demazière, C., & Hamdouch, A. (2014).  TOWN, small and medium sized towns in their functional territorial context. Retrieved from https://www.espon.eu/export/sites/default/Documents/Projects/AppliedResearch/TOWN/TOWN _Case_Study_Report_-_Cyprus.pdf

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.12.2020

Lay Summary (Italian)

Lead
Il settore industriale rappresenta una quota significativa dell'occupazione nelle città di piccole e medie dimensioni. Questo progetto di ricerca esplora la trasformazione industriale e i cambiamenti socio-istituzionali delle città di piccole e medie dimensioni in Svizzera e Slovenia.
Lay summary

Il settore industriale rappresenta una quota significativa dell'occupazione nelle città di piccole e medie dimensioni (vedi Kotzeva et al., 2016). Però, la letteratura accademica tende a concentrarsi sulla trasformazione industriale nelle regioni più innovative e nei grandi centri urbani (vedi Florida et al., 2017; Miörner & Trippl, 2019). Le raccomandazioni politiche derivate da questi “modelli di buone prassi”, tuttavia, non sono adatte ai contesti delle città di piccole e medie dimensioni. I ricercatori sono sempre più interessati alle città di piccole e medie dimensioni al fine di fornire ai decisori politici soluzioni politiche territorializzate (vedi Servillo et al., 2014). Sono necessarie comunque ulteriori ricerche per capire come si svolge la trasformazione industriale e socio-istituzionale nelle piccole e medie città. Utilizzando un approccio comparativo, esaminiamo la trasformazione socioeconomica di sei città industriali in Svizzera e Slovenia. La metodologia di ricerca si basa su un approccio comparativo tra casi di studio e laboratori partecipativi al fine di identificare i processi che partecipano alla trasformazione socio-economica delle piccole e medie città. Il progetto di ricerca tenterà di fornire risposte partecipate alle problematiche legate alla trasformazione socio-economica e ai risentimenti populisti dei cittadini di piccole e medie città che “sentono che la loro voce ha poca importanza” rispetto ai cittadini di città metropolitane (Rodríguez- Pose, 2018).

Florida, R., Adler, P., & Mellander, C. (2017). The city as innovation machine. Regional Studies, 51(1), 86–96. https://doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2016.1255324

Kotzeva, M., Brandmüller, T., Lupu, I., Önnerfors, Å., Corselli-Nordblad, L., Coyette, C., … Wolff, P. (2016). Urban Europe: Statistics on Cities, Towns and Suburbs. Luxembourg: European Union.

Miörner, J., & Trippl, M. (2019). Embracing the future: path transformation and system reconfiguration for self-driving cars in West Sweden. European Planning Studies27(11), 2144-2162.

Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2018). The revenge of the places that don’t matter (and what to do about it). Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 11(1), 189–209. https://doi.org/10.1093/cjres/rsx024

Servillo, L., Atkinson, R., Smith, I., Russo, A., Sykora, L., Demazière, C., & Hamdouch, A. (2014).  TOWN, small and medium sized towns in their functional territorial context. Retrieved from https://www.espon.eu/export/sites/default/Documents/Projects/AppliedResearch/TOWN/TOWN _Case_Study_Report_-_Cyprus.pdf

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.12.2020

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
The industrial sector accounts for a large share of employment in small and medium-sized towns (SMSTs). This research project will explore industrial transformation and socio-institutional changes in SMSTs in Switzerland and Slovenia.
Lay summary

The industrial sector accounts for a large share of employment in small and medium-sized towns (SMSTs) (see Kotzeva et al., 2016). The academic literature tends, however, to focus on industrial transformation in well-performing regions and large urban centres; making policy recommendations derived from such “best-practice models” ill-adapted to SMSTs’ contexts (see Florida et al., 2017; Miörner & Trippl, 2019). Researchers are increasingly interested in SMSTs to provide policymakers with contextualised place-based policies (see Servillo et al., 2014). Additional research must be conducted to understand how industrial and socio-institutional transformation plays out in SMSTs. Using a comparative approach, we examine socio-economic transformation in six industrial towns in Switzerland and Slovenia. The research methodology is based on in-depth comparative case-study approaches and participatory workshops to identify the processes behind socio-economic transformation in SMSTs. The research project will attempt to provide an explanation to favour community-level responses when tackling socio-economic transformation and mitigate increasing populist resentment from citizens in SMSTs who “feel that they don’t matter” compared with citizens in large urban centres (Rodríguez-Pose, 2018).

 

Florida, R., Adler, P., & Mellander, C. (2017). The city as innovation machine. Regional Studies, 51(1), 86–96. https://doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2016.1255324

Kotzeva, M., Brandmüller, T., Lupu, I., Önnerfors, Å., Corselli-Nordblad, L., Coyette, C., … Wolff, P. (2016). Urban Europe: Statistics on Cities, Towns and Suburbs. Luxembourg: European Union.

Miörner, J., & Trippl, M. (2019). Embracing the future: path transformation and system reconfiguration for self-driving cars in West Sweden. European Planning Studies27(11), 2144-2162.

Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2018). The revenge of the places that don’t matter (and what to do about it). Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 11(1), 189–209. https://doi.org/10.1093/cjres/rsx024

Servillo, L., Atkinson, R., Smith, I., Russo, A., Sykora, L., Demazière, C., & Hamdouch, A. (2014).  TOWN, small and medium sized towns in their functional territorial context. Retrieved from https://www.espon.eu/export/sites/default/Documents/Projects/AppliedResearch/TOWN/TOWN _Case_Study_Report_-_Cyprus.pdf

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.12.2020

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Project partner

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
159324 Urban prosperity beyond the metropolis: Analyzing small and medium-sized towns in Switzerland 01.09.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Small and medium-sized towns (SMSTs) in Europe are often highly specialized (Bole, 2012; Hamdouch, Demaziere, & Banovac, 2017; Meili & Mayer, 2017). Indeed, the industrial sector (ranging from low to high-tech) accounts for a disproportionate share of employment and is often over-represented in small- and medium-sized towns (Kotzeva et al., 2016; Servillo et al., 2014). There is increasing scholarly attention on the economic role and function, but also on innovation dynamics in small towns. Yet, the literature has overlooked issues related to industrial transformation of SMSTs and, more importantly, how transformation processes play out at the firm/sector level and how they affect communities (workers, families, non-profits, etc.). Structural changes in industry can impose fundamental challenges and can create intense social and political frictions, which may also result in political radicalization (Rodríguez-Pose 2018).To understand challenges and frictions at the community level, we propose to study industrial town transformations in a place-sensitive context by taking into account two theoretical concepts: industrial culture and slow innovation. We hypothesize that if industrial towns use embedded industrial culture and its values in present-day development, they can be more innovative in adapting and responding to the global changes. Additionally we hypothesize that slow innovation may be the key to transforming the economy towards a renewed industrial path (neo-industrial development) while in some small towns, there may have been a break with slow innovation processes (post-industrial development). We propose four research questions: 1) What are different trajectories of socio-economic transformation of industrial towns (from neo-industrial to post-industrial)? 2) To what extent can we use the concepts of industrial culture and slow innovation to explain the diverse trajectories of socio-economic transformation of industrial towns 3) How do stakeholders at the community level respond to socio-economic transformation processes? 4) In what ways are the transformation processes in industrial towns related to endogenous or exogenous development dynamics?To examine the transformation of industrial towns in a comparative context, we plan to conduct in-depth case studies of 6 industrial small towns in Switzerland and Slovenia with 3 in each country. The case studies represent industrial towns that have followed different transformation paths so that we will be able to compare neo-industrial vs. post-industrial towns, and those with high vs. low level of transformation. Methodologically we conduct the research in three parts: 1) historical analysis of shocks and local community responses; 2) qualitative research of the economic, civil and institutional sector with narrative analysis; 3) participatory action research to observe the utilization of industrial culture and slow innovation in local communities. We chose to compare Switzerland and Slovenia due to similar urban systems, which allows us to determine the extent to which exogenous factors such as globalization, socio-political context, national frameworks, etc. play a role in small town transformation. The proposed research is highly relevant because research and policy have focused on large and service-led urban agglomerations, continuously neglecting industrial towns. Some have called them the “places that don't matter” (Rodríguez-Pose 2018) and have shown that they are prone to populism and radicalism. Our research can add viable policy options and contributes to the debate whether smaller urban units have some degree of territorial autonomy or whether their development paths are determined by national and/or regional factors. The project could also bring broader impact to SMSTs’ industrial communities offering new insights and skills to deal with contemporary socio-economic challenges and breaking negative stereotypes of industrial towns as static bleak places of the past.
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