Place-based identities on the national periphery: Social and political consequences of deindustrialization and shrinkage

Authors: Myrte Hoekstra*,
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Deindustrialization, place attachment, discontent, marginalization
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Astor Ballroom III, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper is concerned with social and place-based (collective) identities and narratives in a context of deindustrialization and shrinkage. I look at Parkstad Limburg, a former industrial region in the South of the Netherlands, housing slightly less than 250,000 people. Once the centre of the Dutch mining industry, after the closing of the mines in the 1970s the region and its largest city Heerlen entered a downward spiral of high unemployment and out-migration of young people, resulting in a shrinking and ageing population (Elzerman & Bontje, 2015). Deindustrialization has had not just economic and demographic, but also social, cultural, and possibly political effects (see e.g. Dohmen, 2013; Luyten, 2015; Ročak, Hospers & Reverda, 2016; Sniekers, 2017; Stienen, 2014). These include the region’s inferiority complex with respect to the rest of the Netherlands, disillusionment with institutions such as the (national) government and the Catholic church, and a sense of generalized discontent that has contributed to support for the radical populist party PVV, currently the largest party in Parkstad. The paper examines how shrinkage, peripheral location, and the collective memory of deindustrialization collude and come to impact how people view themselves and their living environment, and how this intersects with more general social categories like class, race and gender to create a sense of place-based inequality and marginalization, as well as potential counter-narratives that stress regional pride, resilience and agency.

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