ESR-project 3

Sune W. Stoustrup

I hold a bachelor’s degree in Planning Studies and Communication Studies from Roskilde University, Denmark and a master’s degree from the 4CITIES Master Programme in Urban Studies (jointly organised by Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Universität Wien, Copenhagen University, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Universidad Complutense de Madrid). Here I graduated based on the thesis: “European Spatial Planning – From Policy to Project in Budapest and Vienna”, where I analysed the implementation and consequences of EU co-financing of urban projects in the two cities. Living, studying and researching in so many different countries made me acutely aware just how diverse the EU really is, and furthermore, how fruitful it is to carry out comparative research in an international setting.

One of my research interests is the territorial cohesion of society – both in a national and international context. While cities seem to be getting all the attention these days (for many good reasons), rural areas are in many ways forgotten both in the media and in politics. As polarisation between city and countryside seems to be rising, voices “from the periphery” are also seen to be growing stronger. As such I find the opportunity to research this through the RurAction ITN project perfect. Before coming to the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space where I am hosted, I have presented at the Nordic Geographers Meeting 2017 on a session on Territorial Cohesion: Between Past and Future, and at the conference for European Urban Research Association 2017, at the session for Europeanisation, cities and urban policies. Additionally I have edited and contributed to the book Cities: Changes, Places, Spaces (University of Vienna, 2017).

My research project
Work package 1: Challenges and dynamics of structurally weak regions

Discourses on regional problems and cultural knowledge patterns

In current times, many rural regions in Europe are facing major social and economic problems. These developments are mirrored in the media, where rural areas face reoccurring negative discourses, which can further reduce economic opportunities e.g. by framing the regions as a less rewarding context for development. Additionally, public discourses influences the way in which the public organises its agenda, i.e. which issues (in society) should be prioritised and acted upon. The persistence and ‘reality‘ of regional problems is therefore also a matter of discourses on regional problems, i.e. on how and which issues are framed as problematic.

My dissertation research in the RurAction project is thus concerned with how structurally weak rural regions are discursively constructed in the public media (newspapers) and policies, and how this is affecting the way in which problems and solutions are framed by actors carrying out projects on a local level. The case studies for the project are the regions Uckermark (Germany), Mühlviertel (Austria) and Mid-West (Ireland).

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