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Rescaling Europe

10 hour course

Michael Keating (University of Aberdeen - University of Edinburgh)

June 26 – 30 (09.00 – 11.00 am)

Social scientists have regularly proclaimed the end of territory under successive waves of modernisation but it continually emerges as a key principle of social, economic and political organization. Rather than a de-territorialization we are witnessing a rescaling of social life as functional systems, identities and political expression migrate to new levels. This is not new, but is a recurrent feature of the European state. States have sought to reassert control over these new spaces, while political and social movements have sought to politicize them and open them up to popular influence. The result has been the emergence of a meso or regional level of government and of the city region as contested spaces, which are increasingly institutionalized as levels of government. Interest articulation is refracted at these new territorial levels to reshape the policy agenda and create new social alliances and conflicts. Regions have emerged as spaces for public policy, with significant divergences over economic development, the beneficiaries of welfare policies and public services, and environmental issues. Rescaling poses a series of normative questions, especially about self-determination and social solidarity. These are not resolved under rescaling but are put into a new context, with new forms of self-government being possible and social solidarity emerging at new levels. Competitive regionalism has become a dominant theme but there is no generalized race to bottom but rather differentiated experiences.

Regions are not going to replace the nation-state. They remain loosely-bounded and contested spaces but territory continues to reshape the European state.