The role of regional identity in region-specific development and the optimization of identity-based development through policy instruments

  • Messely, Lies (Researcher)
  • Dessein, Joost (Former Project Manager)

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    In this research the uniqueness of the region is central. We define ‘region’ as a socially constructed reality, rather than as a physically, spatially delineated entity. Which are the diverse types of regional actors and what are their mutual relations? What are the spatial, institutional and symbolic aspects of a region, the mutual interaction between these aspects and the resulting region formation process? How is regional identity shaped, and how can this regional identity and/or other region-specific assets be deployed in rural development? The final goal is to understand the processes of regional development and their specific context in order to be able to steer them.

    Research approach
    The research encompasses a literature study on the concepts of region, regional identity, region formation and rural development. Through case study research, the relevance of these concepts for the context in Flanders is investigated. For this purpose, qualitative research methods are applied, including observations, in-depth interviewing and focus groups. In addition, an online survey is used to study the various aspects of regional identity.

    The region seems as a result of dynamic social relations, power relations and identities assigned by different actors. The most important conclusions are always shared with the participating respondents of the research. The results are the foundation for policy recommendations and are communicated on various symposia and/or informational opportunities, through scientific and non-scientific publications.
    Effective start/end date1/06/081/01/17