SPHERE explores themes of identity and belonging: how do such alignments and affiliations survive (or not) the socio-economic changes that accompany restructuring and the broader political and demographic remodelling of Europe’s cultural landscapes? Its multidisciplinary analysis will deepen insight into the ways life experiences are interwoven with a range of cultural practices to construct new identities; it will also address the sources and implementation of regeneration policies for notions of community. SPHERE starts from six distinctive regional identities historically rooted in specific occupational contexts around strong communities in Europe’s largest economies: France, Germany, Poland, Spain, UK and Turkey. All have undergone profound socio-economic transformations with associated challenges to cultural identities and practices. The project focuses on changes to historic regional and cultural identities where regional regeneration projects have attempted to introduce new industries or services or jobs and to create new cultural and economic landscapes. To assess the impact of Europe on the complex evolutions of community, regional and national identities, some of the regions chosen accessed or use EU regeneration funding, while others relied largely either on regional or national state subsidies or on market processes. This research will trace the transition from older to newer industries and put a strong focus on the impact this has had on cultural identities linked to work, class and gender, as well as the effects of EU or other regeneration processes on understandings of place and on people’s sense of belonging. It will probe the conditions under which new occupational, community, national and/or European identities emerge. By drawing on both the humanities and social science, it goes further and asks questions about the complex interconnections of history, place, culture and identity within households, the community and its collective organisations.
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