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Space, place and the historical and contemporary articulations of regional, national and European identities through work and community in areas undergoing economic restructuring and regeneration

Final Report Summary - SPHERE (Space, place and the historical and contemporary articulations of regional, national and European identities through work and community in areas undergoing economic restructuring and regeneration)

Executive Summary:
SPHERE is a collaborative small or medium-scale focused research project funded under Seventh Framework Programme Theme The partners of the consortium are Middle East Technical University (Turkey), London Metropolitan University, Working Lives Research Institute (United Kingdom), Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (Germany), Uniwersytet Slaski (Poland), Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain), Universidad de Murcia (Spain). The coordinator is Middle East Technical University.

SPHERE has investigated the formation and evolution of European cultures and identities rooted historically in specific occupational contexts with a distinct regional base. It has focused on the perceived decline and transformation of ‘industrial’ cultures, formations that constitute specific histories and traditions forged over time. Through historical, theoretical and empirical analysis, the project has sought to understand the significance of these changes for communities, regions and cultures within Europe. It has striven to assess the consequences of transformatory economic restructuring for the workplace, family and locality, and to show how such changes influence individual and collective identities. The regions that SPHERE has studied are South Yorkshire (UK), the Corbeil-Evry-Essonnes (France), Upper Silesia (Poland), South Nuremberg (Germany), Elda-Alcoy (Spain) and Zonguldak (Turkey).

SPHERE has produced scientific results regarding several key areas. The project has looked into the structural transformation that the six European regions underwent in the last decades. It has analysed the national and regional economies in the industrial period, especially during the period that followed World War II. It has also investigated the structural features of the processes of deindustrialisation that took place in all of the regions, albeit in different ways. In addition, the project has focused on the impact of deindustrialisation on the existing and emerging community identities in the regions.

The ampirical research of the project has demonstrated that the processes of de-industrialisation and regeneration within the European context since the late 1970s had a profound impact upon changing notions of identity in former industrial areas. Moreover, changing or enduring political and cultural alignments are associated with notions of place and with conceptions of gender, and the significance of "race" or ethnicity are all bound up with culture shifts and identity formation. Besides the analysis of current scholarship analysed in the comparative cultural identity report, the core of the research has consisted of fieldwork. The fieldwork has had three major components: biographical, key respondent and focus group interviews. The analysis of the fieldwork has been conducted on the basis of four problematics: i) the impact of transformation on relations of gender and class, ii) landscape and identity formation, iii) the question of the emergence of new identities and communities, iv) the role of narratives of place and belonging on cultural identity.

The research of SPHERE has shown that although industrial and manufacturing sectors might no longer be top priority from an economic point of view, the identities of many Europeans still relate significantly to the industrial age and its heritage. In areas of economic decline and restructuring, restructuring often takes the shape of feelings of loss relating to industrial labour, more or less egalitarian distribution policies and the collectiveness of industrial working classes as well as sometimes even spatial focus points of personal memories and biographies. There are regions in Europe where deindustrialisation, the lack of new jobs, and possibly also the related outbound migrations of the younger and better educated have created whole localities of disappointment, stagnation, and social unrest.

We have detected a strong sense of loss and in certain cases feelings of one’s work having been devalued by the on-going deindustrialisation and structural change. Not only the roles, deeds and economic contributions of the workers but also labour’s social worth and integrative power have been made to appear worthless and obsolete by change. This feeling is less visible among women and younger workers and more among older or retired male industrial or mining workers. On the other hand, the feeling of loss is most pertinent in those places and among people where socioeconomic change had been enforced through heavy political conflicts including violence, direct or indirect. Local people have responded to such feelings in different ways. One common response is attachment and loyalty to spaces that are disappearing or have already disappeared. People’s minds and memories are quite strongly attached to spatial structures; it thus seems that the former workers and other residents of regions could cope with such change better if, for example, the company where people has worked for half their lives is still in place, if the buildings are in different use but still existing, and if the city or town provides resources for collective memories, showing that the work lives of present or previous generations are not obsolete.

One of the goals of SPHERE has been to look for traces of European identity in regions undergoing transformation. Strikingly, there were no significant marks of either a positive or a negative relationship with Europe. Europe was mostly absent in the memories and personal narratives of the people, regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity or other factors.

The regions in question obviously need new jobs, infrastructural improvement, proper regional development, and welfare state activities. However, due to the project design, SPHERE has chosen to stress cultural and identity aspects in relation to policy implications as well.

To limit the feeling of loss and obsolescence, and the resulting sense of degradation of life, the industrial heritage of certain regions as well as of Europe as a whole should be valued, accepted and acknowledged. Unresolved problems and trauma for the individual can accumulate subconsciously, creating dangers for mental health. In the same way, collective experiences, memories and social identities, also those related to former social formations, should be given space, resources and ways to articulate themselves.

Positive ways of acknowledging the industrial heritage and industrially moulded life-histories, biographies and identities need space, time, resources and participation. Facilitating the spatial dimension means accepting and respecting the existing social structure of space and representations of the past within it. This could be achieved through developing different loci within urban spaces to serve as bridges between past and present. Such a project needs much action and reflection, by professionals and volunteers, preserving, reconstructing and maintaining selected sites, generating concepts, exhibitions, presentations and the like. Through respecting place and people, these actions may reduce the social conflicts, anomie and social unrest that result from unacknowledged ruptures in identity caused by socioeconomic transformations.

One crucial dimension for the success of such a policy is encouraging participation. Helping to recognize and acknowledge local industrial heritage and biographies should not be seen as a sufficient integrative social mechanism. Only if those women and men who have led their industrial lives in these communities are encouraged to participate and codetermine with politicians and professional experts how acknowledging and reproducing the memory of local industrial Europe should take place, will there be a good chance of success.

The consortium has considered SPHERE as an opportunity to raise local awareness about the problems of identity that socioeconomic and political changes have generated in the regions. It has therefore attached paramount importance to dissemination activities since the onset of the project. The dissemination activities have taken place through diverse means, such as project websites, newsletters, regional advisory groups, photographic exhibitions, local media, and the international conference. One book that contains the findings of the project research has already been published and a second one is about to be published. The biggest effort in relation to dissemination has been expanded on the photographic exhibitions. The partners have been aware that visual materials are both part of the research itself and an important component of dissemination efforts. Moreover, it has been decided that the exhibitions to be held in the partner countries should have an international component. The exhibitions have been very successful in terms of selection of photographs, artistic aspect, design of panels, and the visibility of the international dimension. Although the original plan was to organize six exhibitions, an impressive total of 16 exhibitions have been held by the partners.

Project Context and Objectives:
SPHERE investigates the formation and evolution of European cultures and identities rooted historically in specific occupational contexts with a distinct regional base. It focuses on the perceived decline and transformation of what can be termed ‘industrial’ cultures, formations that constitute specific histories and traditions forged over time. Through historical, theoretical and empirical analysis, the project seeks to understand the significance of these changes for communities, regions and cultures within Europe. It aims to assess the consequences of transformatory economic restructuring for the workplace, family and locality, and to show how such changes impact upon individual and collective identities, traditions and customs.

The project examines how ‘new’ identities might emerge, and older ones survive, in these regions and through what mechanisms this occurs, and what role the EU has in this. It also looks onto the processes of economic change and regeneration impact on the significance of place which are central to people’s sense of history and feelings of belonging and the cultural practices that have functioned to establish understandings of place and identity for these regions – in the arts, literature and the media. SPHERE also will inquire into the communal and collective organisations that affect the preservation or renewal of historical identities, in the processes shaping, and re-shaping, histories and traditions as lived through regions, workplaces, neighbourhoods and family structures, and the associative collective action and political participation within these regions and localities – that crucial nexus between people and their sense of place.

Recognising the historical importance of the collective identities linked to class and region, SPHERE also investigates the contemporary relevance of such co-ordinates to people’s sense of being and belonging, and probes the conditions under which new identities, including those based on consumption, gender, age, ethnicity, nation and European, may emerge following the re-orientation of social and economic life.

SPHERE is situated within a number of interconnecting theoretical and empirical debates relevant to each of the countries drawn into the research focus and to the EU. These derive largely from the impact of profound economic restructuring since 1980, leading to the perceived demise of collective cultural and regional identities. In this context it is often argued that new types of work and social organisation result in an eclipse of collective (often, class) identities. Others criticise a total abandonment of the previous paradigm, arguing for the continued relevance of older collective categories as major factors in the shaping of cultural identities and modes of being, but tempering this with a concern with intersectionality in helping shape identity.

SPHERE’s originality lies in its ambition to ground these debates in a series of regional case studies of cultural transition, and within a European context. The deindustrialisation and economic restructuring of former industrial areas represent processes of transition that impact decisively on established cultures nurtured over time, and it is as a result of such deep shifts and transformations that notions of identity and culture loom ever larger. Europe’s social and cultural landscapes are marked by these transformations. Their impact on the identities and cultures that derive from the range of experiences, customs and traditions that earlier ways of living and working brought into being, however, is largely under-researched. Yet it remains vital for understanding the future cohesion and identity of the regions themselves, as well as for making sense of the historical formation and cultural diversity of the European Union. However, the trajectories of historical development, national and cultural differences, and diverse political histories must be accounted for in any comparative study of industrial cultures. There exists no clear-cut or uniform pattern, which is why we have chosen South Yorkshire (UK), the Paris-Essonnes industrial south (France), Upper Silesia (Poland), Northern Baveria (Germany), Levante (Spain) and Zonguldak (Turkey) to study.

Notions of identity within these particular regions were always complex and never straightforward. There are powerful commonalities of experience and development between these regions, yet there are also significant path dependent national differences that will be important to trace in the research process. These are key sites across the European Union, spaces of radical social and economic change. Consequently, they are areas where cultural traditions and formations are, or have been, thrown into crisis.

SPHERE asks how is it possible to make sense of the perceived demise of ‘old’ identities and the emergence of ’new’ ones in these areas? It has been common to think about regions and specific occupational cultures through the lens of class. Arguments around identity and belonging were perceived as disclosing clear class codes, affiliations and ties. Thus regions came to be seen as distinctive in both a geographical and a sociological sense. But with the perceived eclipse of class identity a fresh interest in other modes of cultural belonging emerged, particularly around the categories of ethnicity, gender and sexuality. These suggest new forms of identity that were not primarily centred around work, and hence the need to avoid the hasty homogenisation of identity based on assumptions around region, class or community relations. It is also the case that the experience of migration and diaspora is increasingly important for the construction of place and that this complicates ideas of belonging in a range of ways. SPHERE will thus take the debates forward. Not just through researching the shaping of cultures of transition in areas of deindustrialisation and regeneration, but also through focusing on the complexity of the intersectionality of identities of class, gender and ethnicity, and how these are positioned in space.

SPHERE’s broad objectives are:

1: To deepen understanding of concepts and definitions with regard to cultural identities in the context of rapid and widespread socio-economic change.

SPHERE’s first objective is to identify, refine, share and develop key concepts through which understandings of historical and cultural identities are established, clarifying similarities and differences arising from the different national contexts. What is central is the significance and depth of change and continuity in the experiences of self and place. The research thus seeks to grasp the conditions of possibility for newly emergent ‘knowable communities’ (Williams, 1958) – conditions produced through a range of intersecting, and sometimes conflicting, factors and what role the EU might play in this.

2: To identify the types of work and economic life that have replaced former industries and to examine the impact of these transformations and transitions on traditions, alignments and cultural formations.

Gender is a central thematic concern of the project. SPHERE explores processes of displacement in the wake of the decline of historically significant male-dominated work. It explores how households or families have been absorbed into new or existing occupations and asks whether displacement means inactivity, and how experiences vary by gender? What effects do specific regeneration processes have in reshaping ideas of place, identity and belonging? What are people’s attitudes towards these changes? Is there a different attachment to work in these new jobs, and was occupational identify defined by a skill or craft status that is now lost? Are new occupations gendered in the same way that older occupations were? Has occupational and sectoral segregation been reinforced or challenged? What are the generational implications of all this? Are potential tensions contained and negotiated within the household and/or family?

3: To explore how the political and social identities forged under an industrial order of a certain sort operating in a certain place may survive the collapse or radical transformation of that order.

It is a key purpose of the research to examine how and in what ways distinctive political and cultural institutions and values and related structures of feeling survive following change. Do new occupational communities and identities emerge and if not why not? The ethnographic and oral testimony approach developed for the research will be central for understanding the lived experiences of such changes and powerfully inform and shape the research.

4: To examine the role of a range of cultural practices in representing ideas of place.

Representation is a key analytical concept, intelligible in two senses for the purpose of this project. Firstly, there is the notion of representation at the political level, and this will be considered when analysing such topics as new political institutional forms, subjectivities and commitments. Secondly, representation is used in its aesthetic sense, in the analysis of cultural production and the arts. This involves analysing art, media and literary production about and for such communities, a range of material created over a long historic period. Some sources refer to the hegemonic function of stories in this context – representations that become naturalised as society’s ’common sense’, as just the way things are. Exploring changing and ‘alternative narratives’ of place, space and community are important here.

5: To analyse the effects specific regeneration processes have in changing cultural landscapes through reshaping ideas of place, identity and belonging.

Do specific regeneration processes act as a motor to community re-building? What are the effects of the rebuilding of these environments and landscapes following the removal of industrial landmarks of place and identity? In the light of these questions, the project has a strong visual strand that informs all aspects of the research. This emphasis derives from the importance of regeneration and representational processes in fixing ideas of place and space in the public and private spheres. What effect do regeneration processes – in terms of physical changes to landscapes and environments – have in reshaping feelings and responses towards place, identity and belonging? SPHERE therefore examines the physical landscape and its changing contours through regeneration and heritage initiatives; and also explores modes of remembrance and commemoration constituted by local actors, through cultural outputs that represent the components of more vernacular material cultures and help an understanding of how identities are lived in the everyday.

6: To provide the means of constructive and critical dialogue about the nature and extent of cultural change across Europe as a whole.

How do all these changes impact on the core concepts of identity and belonging within Europe? SPHERE will research the ‘Europeanness’ of these changes and initiate a comparative and European debate on the findings. To what extent are the changes experienced as ‘European’ – in either positive or negative ways? Is there an emerging sense of identity and belonging as a European? In what kinds of ways could such an identity be promoted through periods and experiences of restructuring?

Project Results:
The scientific results of SPHERE could be classified and presented in 5 main categories. A plan of the present report is as follows:

1. Structural transformation: consequences of industrialisation and deindustrialisation in 6 European regions
1.1 National economies and regions
1.2 Deindustrialisation
2. Communities and identities
3. Narrative and cultural identity
4. Landscapes and histories
5. Gender and identity
6. Conclusion


The research about industrial decline in European regions have started from the understanding that the recent transformations of economic life in many of the industrial areas of the European Union profoundly influences identity formation resulting in what we call “cultures in transition.” The purpose of this part of the project is to offer an initial overview of these developments, exploring the transformation of former industrial economies that have impacted upon specific histories and traditions forged over time. The initial “mappings” traced in this part of the project has provided the background to the ensuing investigation into changing regional, national and European identities.

We have first striven to provide a necessary contextual backdrop that maps some of the formative developments in the emergence of industrial economies and cultures in the countries and regions under investigation. Secondly, we have tried to understand “transitions.” Transitions themselves are complex processes, and the goal is to highlight the trajectories taken within the regions that mark decisive shifts in the areas investigated. Thirdly, we have moved on to consider some conceptual frames employed in making intelligible the significance of the material transformations mapped out in the context of the lived experiences of cultures and communities.

As part of the historical context, we have focused on the consolidation of industrial economies in the regions and nations under investigation. The objective here is to examine the trajectories taken by each country in the formation of distinct industrial regions and indicate the significance of these developments. The historical frame falls chiefly on the period following World War II, although some of the discussion extends further back in history.
The impact of restructuring through processes of de-industrialisation and regeneration within the European context since the late 1970s has been profound. Regarding identity formation in the light of changing working lives and community interactions is a key part of a complex process to be explored. Altering, or enduring, political and cultural affiliations and alignments associated with notions of place and with conceptions of gender, as well as considerations, too, of the significance of “race” or ethnicity within specific regional and national contexts, are all bound up, too, with culture shifts and identity formation in profound ways. As the research unfolded, a more detailed concern with “mapping” how those cultures and identities have been shaped and found expression in discursive forms and cultural practice – and are in the process of being refashioned – has become central central to our investigations. This imperative reflects Steven High’s view that processes of de-industrialisation are ‘not simply economic processes, but cultural ones as well’ (2007, 2). High argues that cultural meanings are vital for understanding the meanings of economic restructuring and its variable impacts – and thus it is necessary to explore change as lived and articulated through structures of feeling within the historical contexts and economic situations that shape people’s lives.

Regions are bound up with “myths”, interacting with material forms that sustain life. This is an on-going process – as localities emerge through types of work and social interaction: from this, inevitably, cultural forms and identity practice evolve both independently and in relation to wider formations, most obviously in relation to a hegemonic national culture, for instance. Regions, then, are never isolated, though they might be, or might become, distinct. Work marks such distinctiveness. The coalfield areas, for instance – our examples are in regions in Turkey, Poland and the Britain – have revealed clearly defined characteristics, the product of long historical development constituting ways of life (Dennis et al, 1956).

Industrial cultures of a region can also reveal a distinct entrepreneurial character, a seeming contradiction if we are speaking about class identities. Textile and shoe making in Spain is a case in point. Unlike other industries whose owners may not belong to the community, in this case companies are the product of the initiative of local middle classes, and even working classes in some cases – evident in the case of other Spanish regions and industrial sectors. Post-war reconstruction in Germany had the effect of reshaping the political culture and labour relations. The far right was defeated, but left-wing socialism, too, fell into abeyance. City, industrial and infrastructure planning produced concepts of ‘middle classism’, which meant that former distinct (and contending) classes were eclipsed (see Geiger 1949). The dominant cultural model of the period was the male urban white-collar worker and the housewife with two children.


The post-Second World War settlement led to interventionist economics. A return to the 1930s-style economic depression, conditions widely regarded to have led to the rise of fascism and war, could no longer to be countenanced; thus the state was to play a far greater role in the operations of the economy than hitherto experienced. This led to a period of relative stability in many developed economies following a similar trajectory. We witness what Harvey calls the emergence of the Fordist paradigm; and he argues that the post-war period is crucial in the formation of industrial economies and the cultural forms and experiences that emerged from them.

Historians have identified the distinctive character of many of the regions generated by industrialization. While regions are the product of often distinct economic forces, they are also social and cultural constructs of their inhabitants. There is dialectic at work here; the interaction of economic, or material, forces with the cultural forms and traditions with which they operate in complex ways. What follows is an account of national economies and the 6 regions that the project focuses on during the post-war era.

Following the war, German economy recovered quickly. A new and stable currency was set in place in 1948. This was followed by a steady growth of the GDP and – from 1955 – unemployment almost disappeared. Those three conditions – stability of the currency, steady growth and low unemployment, together with a positive foreign trade balance – resulted in the so-called ‘golden rectangle of prosperity’ (cf. Preiser 1959) representing the period known as the ‘Wirtschaftswunder’ – the “economic wonder”. The industrial period in Nuremberg unfolded in two phases: metal work and engineering industry (1840s-1870s); the electrical industries and its ancillaries (1880s-1890s). During the era of industrialisation some important companies emerged and continue in importance today. For instance, in manufacturing systems engineering the MAN Company, having once started with steam engines, diesel motors, ship engines, trucks and railway wagons soon became prominent, and in electrical engineering the Schuckert Company – later taken over by Siemens – took a dominant role. Nuremberg’s central transport position further strengthened its industrial role, its recent relevance in logistics, for trade fairs and in the service sector (e.g. insurance companies, call centres). Since the 1960s, South European migrant workers have moved into the city and into working-class districts, working in the main in the low paid jobs.

In Britain following the Second World War a Labour Government was voted into power, and promised to deliver a Welfare State providing ‘cradle to grave’ support for its citizens. The framework was based on three ‘assumptions’: a free national health service, child allowances and full employment. After the malaise, the austerity and the rationing which followed the end of the Second World War, and which dogged the incumbent Labour government until its fall from office in 1951, the country’s economy, and the lives of its people, began to improve. It was during these years that production, average earnings and consumption all rose considerably. State ownership (under the rubric of nationalisation) of staple industries was introduced and the pact between trade unions and the state was pursued – in much the same way the German model developed. Coal mining was central to the development of the industrial revolution in nineteenth century Britain as elsewhere. It was the expansion of the railways after 1850 that shaped the location of collieries and saw the coalfields develop in earnest in the South Yorkshire region. The transportation of this coal was revolutionised by the mid-to late nineteenth century by a rail network that fed coal supplies to the emerging industries in the county and beyond. The 1974 Plan for Coal saw the reconstruction of the South Yorkshire coalfield area, intensifying its role as the central energy feeder to nearby industries and the electricity grid, with the rapid development of new and highly productive drift mines across the region. From 1979 to 1984, the Barnsley area underwent reorganisation to intensify and consolidate production. Yet the worldwide fall in energy prices would have an impact on all this – a development compounded by the decision of the Thatcher government after 1979 to run down the coal industry, and on the life of the region in general.

In the case of France, the restructuring and/or progressive disappearance of the traditional industries led to the erosion of the paternalist system that had dominated employment relations up to that point. The big industrial families gradually ceded their control to the shareholders, at the same time disengaging from the management of their businesses and from local political life. The paternalist tradition was progressively diluted and Taylorist and Fordist conceptions came to dominate. The development of the welfare state intensified this trend; it altered the forms of solidarity and the management of poverty that had previously been applied at the local level, much as in the German case. The culture of the French region under investigation discloses a rural-urban dichotomy. The industrialisation of the area, organised around the urban centre of Corbeil, co-existed with the maintenance of considerable agricultural and land-owning activities. Thus, despite its strong industrialisation in the 19th century, Essonnes stayed rural. Just alongside, Evry remained dominated by the influence of the castles and their serfdoms created at the Renaissance by the courtesans and nobility of Paris. The working class populations of Corbeil and Essonnes themselves kept an ancestral peasant tradition, and many workers continued to cultivate bits of land and to go fishing or hunting. This is bound up with the continued survival of business paternalism. Despite this, it was the grouping of the PCF (French Communist Party) and its associated organisations (the CGT – trade union confederation, FSCGT, etc) that ruled on its own over local life of the region from the early 20th century until the 1970s. During the 1970s, however, there was a relative ‘dilution’ of the Corbeil-Essonne manual working class. The dissociation that developed between the place of work and the place of residence modified the conditions for collective action. The creation of the new town of Evry constitutes, in fact, a third, although later, factor in the evolution of local identity. The changes that took place from mid-1970s period profoundly shook the identities of the populations of Corbeil-Essonnes and of Evry; yet, in time, each of the two towns drew apart and came to resemble totally closed worlds.

Interventionist strategies characterise developments in Turkey, too. During the 1930s the state became involved in the economy more directly and extensively. Large-scale state economic enterprises were formed. Several key industries, including mining, were nationalized, putting a significant portion of industrial production under direct state control. In the Zonguldak region, the first attempt at nationalisation took place in 1936 and the complete nationalisation of all foreign and Turkish companies and individually owned mines was completed in 1940. A low-price policy was put into effect, imports of coal were stopped almost completely; the government thereby heavily subsidized steel and transport ministries (Kahveci 1996: 184), and this continued to be the case into the post-war period. Nationalisation of Zonguldak mines should be understood in relation to the economic crisis of the 1930s and the government’s attempt to alleviate the effects of the crisis through a program of state-led industrialisation – as we have already indicated, signifying a move to what we would see now as a broadly Fordist orientation of the economy, with the state playing a central role. Yet nationalisation did not improve the fortunes of the majority of the miners in that the chronic labour shortage in the basin led the government to impose forced labour on local people during war years. For more than two decades following the nationalisation of the coal mines in 1940, until 1965, state investments in the region increased. Major coal processing facilities and the local railroad network were built during this period, beside the renewal of mining equipment (Tüylüoglu and Karakas, 2006: 207). In this regard, the mid-1960s could be taken to be major turning point in the history the region. Between 1965 and 1980, the population of the city of Zonguldak doubled. However, the population increase stopped in mid-1980s, reversing the trend and heralding the start of the region’s decline.

In Spain the Republican period (1931-1936-1939) coincided with the international economic crisis of the thirties, and a great contraction of international trade. Social and political conflicts between new and old classes ended in a military coup d’état that restored the power of the oligarchic landowners and of the religious and military factions of Spanish society. The Franco regime would rule until 1975 and develop an authoritarian model of state intervention both in economy and in all the spheres of social and political life. The Stabilisation Plan in 1959 meant a new economic openness of the regime, which sought to compensate its exclusion from the main international organisations and agreements of trade and finance and from what were, in those times, the emergent communitarian (EEC) initiated in 1954. Thus began a slow but continuous process of liberalization of the Spanish economy and its integration in the international economy and later in the 1980s Spain entered the EU. The history of the shoe industry in Elda dates back to the first half of the 19th century, and the industrialisation of the sector took place in the first quarter of the 20th century. Between 1939 and 1959, the shoe industry, much like the whole economy of the country, passed through a period of severe scarcity and economic stagnation, caused by excessive and unwise state intervention, poor domestic demand, abundance of workers and economic isolation. The structure of the shoe industry changed radically. Big firms disappeared or turned into a wider network of smaller firms that started to work illegally in order to avoid the regime regulation. Eldian industry was separated from one of the most important steps in the production process and orientated their efforts only to the manufacturing of the product. The production of standardised models of shoes provoked the emergence of bigger and more mechanised firms. The second city that the project has focused on in Spain is Alcoy, a key textile region. As in the case of the shoe manufacturing sector, the neutrality of Spain in World War I allowed the Spanish textile-cloth sector to cater for the intense growth of textile demand on the part of the belligerent European nations, a situation that facilitated a continuous mechanization with the technological introduction of the first self-acting mules (Jordá Borrell, 1975; Cuevas, 1999) in the biggest and most important integrated factories. In the post-war reconstruction period (1940-1959), the shortage of raw materials, of energy sources and of capital impeded the technological innovation, keeping the use of the obsolete 1920’s machinery in this sector until the 1960’s, with continuous low quality production. In this decade, the technological systems (tools, dies, jigs, templates) of this textile-cloth sector begin to be modernized.

Industrialization in Poland after 1945 coincided with the first phase of Socialist industrialization. The steel industry and machine industry were expanded, and during the second decade (1950-1970) the development of basic industries – including hard coal mining industry, fuel and energy sectors, as well as the heavy chemical industry – were consolidated. The third and final stage witnessed the phase of socialist industrialization of Poland in the 1970s. The early seventies saw the implementation of the policy of transition from the industrial revolution to the scientific and technological revolution, combined with the necessity of absorption of the post-war baby boom population approaching working age, and stronger inclusion of Poland in the international division of labour. The Polish economy of that time was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Between 1938 and 1958 the number of workers employed in industry and the mining sector tripled (Jan Szczepanski, 1973: 176). After the Second World War the industrial part of Upper Silesia as well as Zaglebie Dabrowskie (the lands of the former Russian territory of partitioned Poland) was the destination for the intensive migration of people from villages and small towns from across the Poland. The people found employment in the expanding steelworks and coalmines but also in many newly established plants. The latter became the embodiment of socialism – most markedly during the period of the 1970s, which saw massive metallurgical complexes such as ”Katowice Steelworks” erected in Dabrowa Górnicza. Employment in the mining sector in the Silesian Voivodship gradually but systematically increased after the war. This traditional industrial area was subjected to the process of further extensive industrialisation imposed by the state. The process reduced the region to the role of the country’s raw materials and energy base and thus preserving for many years the specific needs of the regional labour market dominated through this type of work.


In this section, the outcome of economic transformations re-shaping these regions is discussed. Up until the latter part of the 1970s it is possible to argue for a degree of stability within these industrialised economies; a stability that marked specific regions out and that were the product of Fordist economic practices until the breakdown of this paradigm after 1973. Indeed by the late 1970s neo-liberal forces had discredited this practice and a new economic model emerged orientated powerfully to free-markets and deregulation. The outcome was a widespread and devastating course of deindustrialisation throughout the economies and regions under discussion here. This emergent neo-liberal agenda after 1979 became the dominant ideology, articulating renewed conceptions of ‘individualism, freedom, liberty as opposed to trade union power and stifling bureaucratic ineptitude on the part of the state’ (Harvey, 2006: 16), where ‘all forms of social solidarity were to be dissolved in favour of individualism, private property, personal responsibility and family values’ (2006, 17). The market economics driving this resulted, between 1979 and 1982, in the rapid decline of major industries. This occurred across the western world, and though the extent of the change was in many cases devastating it was not uniform in its effects.

Thus there can be witnessed a radical re-orientation of the British economy from manufacturing and industry to an emerging service sector economy, leading to the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs – particularly in the North of England, and in Wales and Scotland – in once staple industries such as textiles, coal and steel. Economic liberalisation combined with an anti-trade union stance marked the Thatcher administration’s neo-liberal agenda. The run-down of British coal mining commenced from the end of the Miners’ Strike in 1985: some ten years later – December 1994 – the coal industry was fully privatised by the then Conservative Government. The number of collieries fell from 169 to 12 following the miners’ strike of 1984-85. People employed in the industry declined from 170,000 workers to 7000. This represented perhaps the most dramatic example of de-industrialisation sweeping across many industrial districts in the UK after 1979.

Mirroring the British case, a dramatic turn in the national economic policy in Turkey occurred in 1980 following the introduction of IMF-oriented ‘January 24’ measures, and the subsequent coup d’etat. Turgut Özal, the economy minister of the transition government, later to serve as the Prime Minister of the first and the second civilian governments, implemented a laissez-faire policy regime during the 1980s. The consequences for the region have been destructive and traumatic. The end of planned development and etatism meant the end of an industrialisation scheme that would heavily rely on coal as a source of energy (Kahveci, 1996: 183), thus devaluing its strategic place in the state’s economic intervention policy, the sole patron of its economy. Moreover, the fury of privatisation that began in the 1980s, and the negative attitude of the Özal governments to the labour unions brought both the economy and the workers of Zonguldak under pressure. The consequences have been traumatic for the region. Not only the main source of income and livelihood were lost, but also, the life spring of local identity, and the basis of the feeling of local self-worth disappeared.

The Polish experience was marked by profound political transformations, with the transition from Soviet-style Communist rule to the imperatives of the free market. The political and economic changes were initiated in Poland with a compromise between the government and the Solidarity opposition. They resulted in the partly free elections of 4 June 1989 and later the establishment of the first post-war non-communist government of Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki. The new government proceeded to implement economic reforms adopted in October 1989. The comprehensive system of institutional reforms included liquidation of the system of centrally planned economy, introduction of privatisation, changing the tax system, making state enterprises independent, introduction of money convertibility, liberalization of foreign trade, de-monopolization, the commercialization of the banking and insurance sector, the organisation of stock market, and enabling the operations of foreign investors. The process of transformation united contradictory tendencies. At the bases lay the broad-minded liberal project of transformation of state socialism into the free market system. Yet the interests of social groups who initiated social changes (workers in this instance) were to be compromised (Ost, 2007). Believing into the automatic power of the market, reformers created a free market economy using the “visible hand” of the state (Morawski, 1998: 98). The Polish transformation united the process of the construction of the capitalism, or the market economy, while simultaneous passing to a post-Fordist mode, and the implications of this for the industrial sector were significant.

Profound political transitions marks the Spanish experience, too, following the death of the dictator General Franco in 1975. It meant the conversion of the legal, political and economic structures of Franco regime into a liberal democratic system. At the same time that in the rest of Europe liberal democracies and welfare states were being questioned, in Spain its construction was about to start. In 1977 Unions and political parties were legalized after their prohibition in 1939, and the Workers´ Act was passed in 1980, the public health system with universal coverage and the public education system were developed, as well as an extended network of social benefits. The configuration of this political framework guaranteed workers´ economic, social and political rights. This represents a contrary response to that of other European countries to the international economic crisis that provoked a huge increase of unemployment everywhere in Europe. These changes would have an immediate effect in Elda. Although the shoe sector did not enter the State Plan of Industrial Restructuring, owners started a severe de facto restructuring, which consisted in the closure of firms that were immediately reopened under a different commercial and legal name with only a part of the former workers that lost their permanent status. The entry of Spain in the EU in 1986 allowed the sector to reach the EU market and to start a period of growth, as well as improving production and trade. Yet by 2000 a severe economic deceleration dominated the sector. The 2008 financial crisis only accelerated the crisis of the sector, leading to cost-reduction strategies shared in different ways by most owners, and has given rise to a restructuring that includes the widespread introduction of outsourcing, increased informal production processes and the intensification home working as cost cutting strategies. The entrance to the EEC in 1986 meant an increase in foreign competition from other European economies in the internal Spanish textile-cloth market; this led to a deep fall of internal production, the loss of portions of the previously “captive” domestic market, the closure of companies and the intense reduction of employment, while segments of the sector went “informal” in a network of small irregular workshops, or returned to household workshops (essentially, female employment). This process was finally intensified by the recession of 1992-1993, with a new general decline in the internal textile market, partly driven by intense managerial and union wage restraint agreements and the growth of unemployment.

The German and French models, though resistant to some degree to the extreme neo-liberal framework, still reveal the impact on communities of economic restructuring. New problems appeared in France during the 1980s and 1990s. Among these, three were particularly sensitive in the region in question. The first was that of economic crisis and the growth in unemployment. A second problem arose out of the dilution of the manual working class and the disappearance of the utopian beliefs that had guided collective action through most of the twentieth century. The questions of the renewal of networks of solidarity, and more largely of the agencies of change, were opened without clear answers being given. The third problem was, finally, that of the huge estates. These great concentrations of housing that had been developed in a period of growth became, with the crisis, real ghettos into which the poorest of the population could be 'dumped'. Between 1945 and today, the region studied has experienced two big waves of economic and urban transformations. These transformations took very different forms in the two towns of Corbeil-Essonnes and Evry, despite their being adjacent to one another. The first retains today its industrial identity, despite major restructuring, principally through two major companies that are flagships for the historic engineering industry. The second – urbanised very late – became over the course of thirty years a beacon of the new economy of services and knowledge. These contrasting realities offer for our research important material for consideration of the nature of restructuring and their impact on identity. From this evidence, despite their proximity and the similar problems they face, the two towns do not follow the same trajectory.

In Germany, Nuremberg was highly affected by the structural changes in the local economy since the 1980s. The dominant metalworking and electrical industries have lost about 50,000 jobs since the 1970s and job growth in services could not fully compensate the number of lost industrial jobs. The industrial companies reorganised their internal employment structure to include more knowledge workers. In consequence, the portion of employees holding a university degree increased. Following this, tertiarisation and the shift to the information society – and the special problem of the unification – has influenced German labour markets, social policy, and the nature of labour in general, limiting the redistributive generosity of the 1970s to degrees not seen since the early 1960s. In Germany, there have been some anti-union aspects of legislation but never something similar to union bashing seen in the UK.


The part of the project research on old and new collective identities have explored how economic restructuring and new forms of employment have reproduced, eroded or consolidated modes of political and cultural affiliation and alignment within the communities and regions under investigation. Secondly, it has examined the new basis for collective identification in the current contexts of restructuring and re-fashioning old collective identities and industrial and regional cultures.

These issues lead us to the heart of a series of debates running through current social sciences on whether former class identities have survived, and how they may have been replaced by other types of identities with a different basis. There is in fact widespread belief that the decline of working class identities is due to class feeling being diluted and replaced by identity bases derived from consumerism, lifestyles, ethnic origins, etc. The individualisation thesis (Giddens, 1991; Habermas, 1988) states that the construction of the individual self becomes an unavoidable self-reflexive project in the current post-traditional order, at the same time as our identities break free from traditional ties (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 2001). Undoubtedly, changing from a traditional order to a post-traditional one has to involve transformations in the ways identities are configured. However, the concept of individualisation can result in us mistakenly assuming that what were previously social and collective identities have now become freely-chosen identities with no social character. Even though the individualisation theorists no doubt did not intend this, this concept is compatible with the modern conception of the self as a self-contained rational or irrational subject, seeking a true identity waiting to be discovered, with total freedom of action and capacity to transform reality. It is difficult to speak about individualisation when it repeatedly becomes evident that the self is constructed in social and linguistic interaction.
Class identity is made increasingly complicated by the complexity and diversity of the subjects and groups in a similar precarious position in a manner that is internationally widespread. However, the difficulty in sustaining a working class identity does not mean that it has stopped being important for all the workers. Heath, Curtice and Elgenius (2009) have tried to demonstrate the survival of class identity systematically, although they state that there has been a decrease in the percentage of workers who identify themselves as working class, but this is not as pronounced as the theories on the disappearance of the working class would have us believe.

Similarly, Pakulski and Walters (1996) emphasise how class cultures have fragmented enormously, thus also eroding the possibility of a cultural homogeneity leading to a strong identity. Many researchers in the field show that worker communities are in the throes of disappearing in many parts of the world, and the good old days of industrial paternalism and worker solidarity, so typical of the Fordist mode of regulation, are looked back on with nostalgia. Despite this, if the feeling of class identity persists in many citizens, just as the structural inequality putting very numerous collectives at a disadvantage persists, it is obvious that the difficulty in sustaining largely homogenous worker communities does not prevent this class feeling. However, the worker identity must find other bases on which to sustain itself. In this regard, one of the bases on which this class identity can be sustained is the places of residence and the territories which gather together these worker collectives in certain urban districts, as a result of the residential segregation existing in many places. For example, recent events in Spain demonstrate how the precariat express themselves, gather together and generate collective identity via virtual social networks. Returning to the spatial dimension, places of residence become spaces of citizenship which allow for the formation of collective identities, which are different from worker identities, but which also structure their inhabitants' actions. In the European regions that the project focuses on, the old common identities have given way to a plethora of different groupings and, consequently, different collective identities coexist. The populations are, therefore, more fragmented than before in terms of work experiences, community groups, ethnic identity, lifestyles and consumption possibilities, etc. The question is, then, whether there are any common possible grounds for establishing collective identities in the regions under study.

The answer to this question needs to assess the extent to which there are collective identities with a territorial basis. The answer could be diverse in each case: negative in some regions, positive in others, but different in character, and, in some cases, local identity opposed to regional identity in others. The basis of this possible collective identity would take shape from the shared belonging to an institutionalised political and territorial space, which confers identity possibilities which are experienced intensely, at least potentially, by all the citizens. It is the identity derived from belonging to a politically organised territory in the municipality or in the region. In this respect, we could find the bases of this identity in the field of civic and political participation.

We understand that the most relevant identity is the identity shared by members of the city or the region, as citizens, which makes all the inhabitants in the social space equal, at the same time as it separates them from inhabitants in other places. They are, therefore, possible types of identity with a territorial connection (local, regional, national, supranational), and they are necessarily related to each other (the locality forms part of a region, a country, and, eventually, a supranational entity). What we are interested in, however, is the discursive production on the local or regional us, when it crops up easily and is understood as something shared.

In the case of Alcoy and Elda, identification with the city benefits from its consolidation as a space of political representation, in the form of the local government. The election of local representatives leads to more interest in everyday issues, since the result of the City Council’s decisions is noticed more directly than that of other administrations. Consequently, a local community is formed with a government that acts and accounts for its management to citizens who value this action because they feel they are members of it. In the majority of the cases, the assessment is negative, as was to be expected in an employment crisis context, but it does highlight the importance of the local political arena as a creator of a citizen community.
Nonetheless, from an identity perspective, the field of politics is a scenario for party confrontation, and, therefore, for the formation of groups with differentiated interests or ideologies within the same community. This means that whilst political representation reinforces local identity, it also produces significant internal differences. It is, therefore, extremely important for the local community to find its expression of identity in manifestations that highlight the unit, or the closeness of its inhabitants. This role is played, to a large extent, by local fiestas, especially when they are as important as the Moors and Christians Festival of Alcoy and Elda.

What is relevant here in this sense is the role these local festivities play in the feeling of common belonging to a collective, as many of their citizens participate in the preparations and celebrations of the various events forming part of these festivals, thus creating a close network of social relations. Participation in this social network provides an opportunity to transform this sense of belonging into structured everyday practices, which reinforce these collective bonds and are a magnificent example of collective identity. During a recession, these celebrations and the social bonds involved may strengthen intentions to stay in the city when economic prospects are not good. Consequently, festivities can act as an identity anchor, or an element of cohesion and collective identification. Involvement in the festivities becomes, then, a symbol of the sense of belonging for the city, of the wish (or chance) to be part of the local community. Inversely, not participating becomes a symbol of a distance between the self and the city, that can be expressed in a range between a simple relativization, an ironic stance toward city traditions, and a major reject and estrangement, usually related to a negative assessment of the chances the city offers.

The local identity in the region of Corbeil-Essonnes - Evry is just as strong, as it is undoubtedly in many parts of France, connected with a political organisation where the mayor and the municipal government are important for the welfare of their citizens. The position Corbeil-Essonnes - Evry has between Paris and the rest of France seems to be one of the main factors giving stability to the people living there. The closeness of the capital offers, on the one hand, an access to a particularly diversified and open labour market, with significant career possibilities. On the other hand, the region has such a large labour market of its own for people to see it could be possible if need be to work there, or even to build a career there. In addition, housing is much more affordable than in Paris and in the towns of the inner suburbs. Finally, the proximity of large forests and rural areas offers a wider range of leisure possibilities than in the capital. The issue of transport was a recurrent one in the interviews, opening a perspective on a community marked by the problems created by daily commuting.

The importance of local identity is sufficiently intense to lead to conflicts between the important municipalities in the region. Beyond their rootedness in the Corbeil-Essonnes - Evry region, people also often expressed an attachment to or a repulsion for certain parts of the area. These parts are in some cases delimited by their administrative frontiers. This is most often the case with Communes. It was still possible to see examples of historical rivalries between the communes of Corbeil and Essonnes (which were merged in 1951). While over a long period Corbeil was the main centre of attraction for people in the region, this was challenged from the 1960s with the creation of the new town of Evry, and its being made the principal administrative centre of the new Essonnes Department. At that moment, Evry represented the town of the future and a space of social experimentation particularly interesting for the intellectual milieu. An important rivalry then emerged between the local governments of the two towns. It was not necessarily reflected among the inhabitants, other than in the cleavage between the admirers of 'real towns with proper old centres', the lovers of modern architecture and the unconditional advocates of the village atmosphere of older areas that kept their character in the middle of an increasingly concentrated urban area.
This local identity is challenged by the fact that, as a suburban area, this region is continually receiving migrants from other French regions, from other European countries and from many non-Europeans countries. As in the case of Elda, the way in which the integration of these new inhabitants has occurred is fundamental. There is a perception that the integration of immigrants was easier before than it is now, so the social discourse travels between appreciation of the diversity of the population as a value in itself, and the rejection of certain groups of immigrants who live in districts that have lost their social prestige and have become socially isolated from the rest of the city.

In the case of Upper Silesia, the region is a significant element for the identification of the respondents. Sometimes it is even more important because it is totally interwoven with the biographies of the respondents, who did not go abroad in search of a better life after all. It particularly concerns the inhabitants who might have easily emigrated to Germany due to their family ties. Obviously, for the local people who identify themselves as Silesians, the region has a double significance: as a geographical space and cultural space, in which even the distinct dialect (Silesian dialect) emphasises the uniqueness of the inhabitants. In the Zaglebie part of the region, it looks a bit different because there is not this cultural difference from the rest of the country as is the case of Silesian culture. It does not mean that the identification with the place is less. However, the most important thing is the nearest surroundings: the flat, block or own house, own estate, road to work etc. When asked to draw a mental map, they often start drawing places connected with work or residence. Then in the background the respondents indicate the whole region. For this reason both groups of respondents would find it hard to leave the place they have been attached to for years.
Local identity in the case of South Yorkshire is perhaps the closest of all the others to a class identity, which is expressed in the population’s widespread feeling of class, as well as in their voting behaviour, still mainly for the Labour Party in South Yorkshire despite the decrease they suffered in the elections two years ago, and in a context of conservative majority in most of England. Therefore, the disaffection towards the left that is taking place in other traditional working class areas is not occurring here, nor with the same intensity. This class identity is based on the prejudice they believe they suffer when looking for employment, and in the power relationships they are exposed to. This is reflected in a local social and political life, for example in new social movements arising in the region, and which, although they are not directly connected with this class identity, include ideas that are usually associated with the political left, such as the defence of asylum and of immigrants’ rights, defence of public employment, even the environment, etc. Furthermore, the experience of locality is closely connected with the various districts, which are mainly worker districts, where the majority of the population lives, and which are a source of micro-identities with a major significance for the population.

A very different situation is the one we can describe in Zonguldak, where local identity is perceived as something more typical of the middle class who live in the city permanently, unlike the majority of the miners, who come from the country, and whose original locality is their identity reference. Middle-class residents and professionals express positive sentiments about Zonguldak in one way or another, and are more interested in the fate of the city. On the other hand, those workers who still have ties with their villages, or those who are recent immigrants, do not have a particularly strong attachment to the city, and mention work as the only thing that ties them to Zonguldak. The majority of the underground workers have come from rural areas; they are working in Zonguldak without becoming part of city of Zonguldak. Their loyalty lies in their villages and point of origin. They define their community around their villages and fellow villagers. The company knows the villages well and hire underground workers through determining quotas for each village, a practice that works to strengthen the village community in workplace related issues. Indeed, the absence of a strong local identity is one of the problems mentioned most frequently by middle-class interviewees. They complain that people cannot come together because there is no consciousness about being from Zonguldak in the city and the province, and people still consider the places that their parents or grandparents came from as their hometown.


Our emphasis in this part of the project has been on understanding local identities through the representations produced and disseminated by local people. It is important to remember that representations are ‘a form of social thought’. Jodelet (1984) goes on to emphasise that they are ‘modes of practical thought orientated towards communication, understanding and managing the social, material and imaginary environment’. Social representations may present both as formal (in cultural narratives or public policies) and informal testimonies. Ideas and experiences of culture are thus articulated through such representational modes as the novel and film, painting, photography, local museums, as well as in oral testimony and are expressed under the transforming possibilities promoted by economic forces through various forms of restructuring and regeneration.

We frame the presence and interaction of representations and cultural productions brought to the surface in our fieldwork through Raymond Williams’ concept of ‘structures of feeling’. Wishing to identify meanings and values that are actually lived and felt, ‘and the relation between these and formal or systematic beliefs’ (Williams, 1977, p. 132), he uses the term ‘feeling’ to draw a distinction with the more potentially ‘fixed’ notion of ideology as ‘world view’. Williams viewed structures of feeling as the articulation of a ‘kind of feeling and thinking which is indeed social and material’. As a mode of cultural analysis, structures of feeling provide confirmation of the vital, lived, experiences or attitudes of a group or of a society in a period, defining a particular quality of social action, within uneven processes of historical change. His approach emphasises the uneven and dynamic quality of particular moments and periods in which he posits an interplay between dominant, residual and emergent consciousness that helps make sense of structure and agency.

Understanding the fluidity of movement between dominant, residual and emergent structures of feeling is even more challenging when drawing comparisons between different regions within a very broad definition of Europe. Here we consider regions stretching from the East in Turkey and Poland, to the West in the UK and France, and from the North in Germany to the South in Spain. Some discourses and representations are shared with similar processes of identity formations, others reveal differences. Yet throughout these cultural representations and narratives we can see the interactions of residual, dominant and emergent structures of feeling. There are some shared contexts. Each of the regions/localities experienced or is experiencing decline and /or transformation in the industries that have most recently shaped their identities and which in turn are reflected in cultural representations. However while some of these regions are living relative economic renewal through which new work and identities are emerging, others are experiencing uneven or fragile development and widespread identity disorientation and alienation.

In Zonguldak, Upper Silesia and South Yorkshire a strong identification with coalmining culture continues despite many years of industrial decline in the case of the former two, and obliteration of the industry in the latter. Despite numerous regeneration strategies, identification with mining remains strong as the three areas retain strong local and regional identities informed by powerful lived experience. Yet there have also been some changes: call centres, supermarkets and shopping malls and knowledge-based work have all appeared and thus new structures of feeling around women’s work and empowerment are appearing.
In Elda and Alcoy in Spain, the collective identity of both cities traditionally focused around specific (though differently interpreted) cultural narratives concerning their respective and declining footwear and textiles industries. Now, a disaffected youth appears to reject both industries and narratives and, encouraged by adults, wishes to migrate from the towns. The two towns are quite different – Elda remains largely industrial, (officially the ‘pride of the city is in its industry’) with Alcoy more service based with a stronger middle-class identity. In France there are also two very different identities attached to Corbeil-Essonnes – with its flour milling, metalworking and declining industrial papermaking core and agricultural hinterland - and neighbouring Evry, built in the 1970s as a high tech knowledge and space studies centre. Identities reflect a range of competing and overlapping narratives reflecting different dynamics of structures of feeling – the medieval city, the industrial city, the countryside identity and the hi-tech new town. Nuremberg differs in size from the other manufacturing areas researched, and is a major Bavarian city with a strong but changing local culture within the dominant consciousness of a confident, partly protective German capitalism (Hall and Soskice, 2001). But with Corbeil-Essonnes, Elda and Alcoy shares a very long manufacturing history dating back to the mid-19th century with a particularly dynamic period of growth after the destruction and reconstruction after the Second World War. Recently Nuremberg has experienced major restructuring towards the logistics, finance, research and development and retailing sectors. These sectors now dominate the local economy and are reshaping work and social organisation and influencing structures of feeling.

All cultural representations - old and new, local, national and global, inform and shape agency and identity and enforce and reinforce notions of place and belonging. Thus the intersections evident in the multiplicity of human identities and experiences over time such as suburban or metropolitan or rural; political or religious and industrial or agricultural can also be located in the narratives and cultural representations of each region. Exposing them to light and comparing the findings between the regions suggests not only an overlapping presence of, but also a dynamic between, dominant, residual and emergent structures of feeling. Examining relationships between residual, emerging and dominant structures of feeling allow us to undertake a comparative interrogation of our representational and narrative evidence on feelings of place and belonging.

We think about structures of feeling in relation to economic, social and historical change and how they are bound up with notions of identity, community, region and place. We propose to address the evidence of cultural production marshaled though the research along three complementary channels. First we develop our analysis through considering the more formal representations of identities in structures of feeling, through literature, poetry, song, drama, folklore, place names, film, postcards, statues, banners - in public-facing cultural forms. The second channel involves a focus on informal voices – on the meanings, values and practices shared with us in oral testimonies. The third channel explores the regeneration process, how new activities emerge, sometimes involving revisiting earlier contours, and how the process contributes to reshaping or questioning new dominant structures of feeling.

What can be termed ‘Golden Age’ representations are common to all six regions. These are ‘forms of social thought’ about a past which, in times of accelerated economic, social and cultural change, appears retrospectively to be glorious and untroubled – a period when life, communities and people are deemed to have been more secure, ‘better’, more ordered – and which has now disappeared. This Golden Age is characterised (and represented) by ideas of tradition, paternalism, community, political cohesion and is stimulated by discourses of social, political and community breakdown, de-skilling, demographic change and tensions between tradition and modernity, old and young. For many of those we interviewed it is an overarching, dominant structure of feeling at the local level, although also residual within national consciousness. The Golden Age narrative is a yearning by citizens who ‘recall’ not only a real or imagined idealised physical, material past but also a past of shared identity, meaning and purpose. Williams (1973) argues that every generation recalls a ‘golden age’ in which class conflict, enmity, and animosity are absent and that the notion is ‘a myth functioning as a memory’. Many Golden Age narratives are associated with work and working life. Identity is indeed profoundly bound up with work. In the Golden Age narrative reference was made to nostalgia for the rural society, the past and representations of this powerful if residual structure of feeling. The battle around industrialisation and its relationship to the past is echoed through cultural references to built environments, mechanisation and to the development (and prowess) of the skilled and heroic industrial worker. The struggle between ‘man and machine’, (and there are virtually no narratives or representations of similar struggles for women), and the changed built environment from rural to urban, is well articulated in literature.

The representation of the ‘radical worker’ is closely associated with industrialisation and skilled work (both its emergence and the struggle over its decline) and was fostered primarily by trade unionism and notions of collectivism and solidarity. It has strong moral dimensions and its ethos can be traced in the early trade union banners which promulgated a culture of self-help and solidaristic forms of organisation. In all partner countries trade unionism has at times been closely associated with left and radical politics which have reflected collective identity as a whole way of life. The radical worker (alongside the skilled and heroic worker) is both actor and agent here. The forms that representations of the radical worker take are diverse. For many in our regions the radical worker narrative is a powerful (if residual) structure of feeling which intersects with emerging structures of feeling around occupational instability and identity loss during the shift to and consolidation of neo-liberalism. Yet the radical worker narrative is not simply about work and occupation in contemporary times but has permeated the history and identity of each partner locality over time and in pre-capitalist formations.

The role of women in the old industrial regions (and in the wider national context) has changed massively over the years and a shift in the demarcation of gender roles within the working class is a major fall-out of de-industrialisation, flexibility and the casualisation of the work-force. Much new work in the coalfield regions in particular – usually low paid and precarious - is targeted at women and a number of representations point to important changes in associated cultural and identity formation.

The language of class is absent from most representations of the ‘new times’. Regions being ‘fit for the future’ is a strong ‘official’ representation, echoing the dominant neo-liberal paradigm and a commitment to economic restructuring. For example replacement industries in the old industrial heartlands such as global call and distribution centres require new skills and knowledge unlike the work and skill sets that shaped the regions in the past. Increasingly therefore, representations are about a regional workforce which is knowledge rich, flexible and with transferable skills. Where industries have declined, universities, colleges and education centres have been built so as to retrain and up-skill workers with the capacities necessary for work in the global economy.

Oral testimony substantially contributes to our discussion of residual, emergent and dominant structures of feeling and the shaping and reshaping of identities in regions that are undergoing massive economic and social restructuring. Identities reflect the articulations of structures of feeling, and like them, should not be considered unproblematic and fixed. We understand identities as fluid and as being constantly contested, negotiated and reconstructed. Yet to be articulated and prioritised at a particular moment – as a migrant, as working class, as a woman, as a football supporter, as a communist, as a person from a particular neighbourhood, etc - these identities require a narrative that can mould them into a coherent whole, a narrative that for nations, as Anderson (1983) argued, requires the creation of ‘imagined communities’. At a national level these dominant structures of feeling enable members of the community to feel, tell or repeat stories linking their own personal narratives to the narrative of ‘the nation’. A similar story-telling about experiences lived at the workplace and local level or within institutions and social movements or in gender roles at home or in leisure activities has a key role enabling and articulating other identities, that may be embedded in residual and emergent structures of feeling as well as within dominant ones.

As we examine oral testimonies as ‘real’ stories of ‘real’ people speaking of and seeking to make sense of their lived experience in the six regions we must remember that these are ‘narrative identities’. They are ‘self-interpretation’, and in seeking to produce a kind of consistency over time both through and in narrative, are in many ways ‘turning the story of a life into a fictional story’ (Ricoeur, 1991: 188). Some of these stories would reflect public narratives that have been internalised by the narrator, while others the individual’s experiences in tension with and distinct from the dominant consciousness. The stories have been shaped, too, by the available conventions and rhetorical devices present in the different regions when speaking about identity and place. The narratives that we explore here, of place, belonging and continuity alongside movement, diversity and change, thus present tensions between the residual and the dominant and emergent in forms which contrast past and present and public and individual memory in shaping the complexities of contemporary feelings. The past and the present come together in many narratives concerning the places where people were born, or came to when young or to work and live in early adulthood, and then stayed, building new or adapting to existing lived social networks. Time lived in a place marks the narrator deeply with residual feelings derived from the social and physical geography that differentiates them from ‘the other’. Feelings of belonging and identity are also influenced by that geography. Whether the narrators come from a more geographically isolated town (like Alcoy) or from an independent but satellite town to a major city (like Corbeil-Essonnes) or from a major city (like Nuremberg), or from smaller towns or villages (like the Dearne Valley) creates different textures to their local structures of feeling.

Several tensions between dominant consciousness and these emergent expressions of change were expressed by the voices we heard in the different regions. The principal narratives encountered concerned the pace and scale of physical and industrial change, the accelerated movements of people and the population diversity they resulted in. The narratives also suggest the presence of emerging structures of feeling about identity that are more inclusive of ‘the other’. They are not dominant, and are certainly in opposition to the widespread resentment shown towards ‘the other’. These emergent stories range from articulating the feeling that there are no reasons to be ‘interested’ in ethnic or racial difference and that integration is normal and natural to the feeling that these identity differences provide something new and valuable to the local community.


The project has also analysed the relation between landscapes and identity transformations in a comparative perspective. Transformation is what can be seen as an overall characteristic of the six landscapes that have been taken under research. But permanence is a main characteristic of these landscapes as well. It is this relation of transformation and permanence that is one of the main issues of this report.

We have striven to analyse, first, how landscapes and work are intertwined with identities and second, the transformations of landscapes and identities. To this end, the project has considered and studied transformations of landscapes in the biographic memories, transformations of experiences in landscapes, emotions that are related to landscapes and senses of belonging to landscapes.

Broadly speaking, all industrial landscapes under study have transformed from agrarian landscapes to different industrial landscapes. It is especially in the case of Evry that some parts of the area retain a rural identity. Visitors from outside can still feel they are in the countryside when they enter villages such as the old part of Lisses, Courcouronnes, Evry, Etioles or Saintry.

A second transformation of landscape took place with deindustrialization. In the cases of Silesia, South Yorkshire and Zonguldak mining and steelwork have dominated these regions. Today mining and steelwork are widely closed and are partly replaced by service sector work. Alcoy was dominated by textile industry and Elda by the shoe industry. This is in part replaced in both regions by other industrial sectors and by the service sector. In Nuremberg industrial manufacturing is to some extent replaced by the service sector. The region of Evry has partly transformed from industrial culture, in textile and printing, to engineering and new technologies like genetic research. In all areas under research the dominance of industry in the landscapes and its reduction in scale is a visible element of the landscapes.

Industrial landscapes have specific characteristics. It was the closeness of work, residence and leisure that was an eminent feature of all industrial landscapes under study. This closeness was mixed up with the transformations in the last decades. Now work has changed or it is partly gone to other areas. Also other places of everyday life, like for leisure and consumption have spread geographically. The former tight industrial landscapes are not anymore fully integrated landscapes where everyday life activities were mainly concentrated on an urban quarter or a mining town. The close landscapes that contain work, residence and leisure on a small scale have been dissolved. Now people have to move for leisure time, for consumption or for work. Some people have left their former residence areas and went to other more prosperous areas.

The former closeness was an everyday experience of our interviewees. The memories of the former close times are linked to memories of sensorial experiences that are expressing the former tightness at times were the nearby working place could be heard and smelled in the streets. It is a lost of these sensory experiences that represents a transformation of landscape for the interviewees in different areas under research.

A third transformation is related to the development of post-industrial landscapes in the regions. With the decline of industrial structures new landscapes have developed. Partly, they replace older structures or are additions to structures that are still in use. New structures and places of service work and new industrial places have developed more or less in the regions under study and they have changed the landscapes. In the regions under study besides new workplaces also new structures of consumption have also developed. The most prominent new places are shopping malls that have developed in all areas under study. These structures are considered by the interviewees as a symbol of a bad transformation and as an impression of decline of the area.
In all regions under study traces of the former industrial times are still visible. But the range of the kinds of visibility is broad: From established structures that are still in use for industrial work, to converted former industrial structures and structures of heritage, to industrial ruins and visible industrial residues like slug or scrap hills. However it is in all regions that the conservation of the industrial heritage and the re-use of the industrial buildings is an important topic for the interviewees.

Landscapes are a result and an element of social contestations. In the areas under research different kinds of contestations and distinctions between different segments within the landscapes can be found. The development of landscapes and its divisions are reflecting power relations between class, gender and ethnicity. Importantly, in the empirical narratives of all cases the landscapes are connected with elements of social stratification and with the history of labour relations.

The relation between work and landscapes is especially well considered in studies on industrial workers. It is fair to say that workers are treated as paradigmatic case of a community being especially bonded to specific landscapes like a residential area or to the places of work. Even if this tight relationship between workers and places is widely considered as having dissolved as a consequence of processes of globalisation and individualisation it is in our empirical data that the place of work still has a central role in the biographic narratives conducted in all six regions under study. A loss of a former community in transformed landscapes is a central issue in the regions under study in this project. This is related to a grand narrative of decline after a Golden Age. This point of view is often related to a classic feeling of nostalgia of a somewhat better former time that can be found since ancient times. With a deeper analysis of our data this nostalgic perspective can be analysed as taking a relation to a general perspective that the own interests as workers are under attack under transformed socio-economic conditions.

In nearly all cases under research, with the exception of surface workers in Zonguldak, especially in the narratives of the old interviewees a former tight community constituted within a social network at work, home and in political organisations is presented in its decline. For the interview partners it is especially the community experience they lost, at work, at the housing estate and in leisure structures of leisure, which is the reason not only for the decrease in social contacts in the neighbourhood, but also for a general feeling of loss regarding the solidarity in the neighbourhood.

People are emotional with places: they have an individual and a specific sense of place. This is an outcome of emotional bonds and attachments witch people experience at places or witch they have in their memories connected to these places. Within our research we have included memories about our interviewee’s feelings about specific places and situations. It is frequently for the older interviewees in our project that the transformations are emotions expressed as mourning about what is lost.

Unlike the older employees, who have lived or worked at a certain place for decades, the commuting social scientist, who moves to another city each time he changes his job, as well as younger people employed in industry, who have not established a close and intimate relationship to their residence or work location yet, do not feel physically threatened by a change of location. The stories of those employees who are new to a place vary on this point. People who lived at a particular place for a longer time describe their work location in their recollections in a totally different way. In their memories they realise and emotionally experience the change of the place. The interview partners frequently have souvenirs of the work location such as a photograph of the factory in their living rooms. These bear witness to a deep connection with the work location, which is at the same time a connection to the community of former colleagues. Especially in discussions about the change of the place they experience a shared connection with the place and reproduce a common identity, which is being expressed in the shared memories of the past condition and the exact appearance of the place as well as in the interpretation of the change.


In the ‘industrial’ period, the dominant gender habitus constructed representations of femininity and masculinity on the basis of dichotomous conception of roles and attributes, such as private-public, nature-culture, and dependent-independent. The dominant notion of femininity located women in the home area, put them in the roles of mother and wife and setting obligatory tasks such as emotional leadership, organising family and neighbourhood life, taking care of children, elders and the sick, cooking, providing food and other necessities, cleaning, etc. Masculinity was based on performing the breadwinner role and the related roles as a friend or neighbour, all performed in the public sphere.

In terms of gender, the economic transformation meant departure from the economy based on manual labour performed mainly by men. Lower wages earned by men and job cuts in the traditional heavy industries provided a stimulus for women to undertake professional activity. Yet, despite the changes, the structure of labour market remains a reflection of the “male” model of employment. This tendency is favoured by the changes in the economy, which offers women first of all jobs in services. Most women are employed in trade and repair service, industrial processing, real estate and business services. Women also take jobs in sectors which are traditionally perceived as female jobs, such as education, healthcare and social aid. In general, women are now more active in the workforce than in the past but still less active than men; more often experience long-time unemployment; are more often than men employed on short-term contracts; earn less than men for the same job; often work in the informal economy without social protection; are double burdened with unpaid housework and paid work.

One of the pillars of the old industrial culture was the patriarchal model of family. This model is still present, but is in decline. The dominant family model after de-industrialisation seems to be the modified traditional model, as it preserves the residues of the patriarchal model of symbolic power and a stereotypical division of female and male competences. The model standardizes women’s professional activity. On the other hand, power within the family is re-negotiated and diversified.

In general, in the European regions the project has studied there is convergence in the roles of women and men of the working-class in the following fields (in the sense Bourdieu uses) . In the family field, there is a shift from the patriarchal model to a more egalitarian one, towards normalization of mono-parental families, as seen in the consent to the single lifestyle regardless of sex, in the postulating of education at a higher level than in the previous generations. In the professional field, the convergence is seen in the acceptance of the professional activities of women and men, consent to managerial positions occupied by women and participation of women in trade unions. In the public activity field, there’s more consent to women’s social activity, for example in non-government organisations, consent to women spending leisure time in the public sphere as a result of women’s presence in places previously closed to them.

What seems prevailing for women is responsibility for family (as a community) and home (as a place of significance and social institution), which manifests itself by working for free at home. The emergent component of femininity is the inclusion of paid work as a consequence of new understanding of such responsibility. In the case of men the prevailing character has the realisation of the economic function with the emergent component of participating in unpaid work in the household. The gender habitus under discussion is objectivised by the social norms dominating in the working-class culture and subjectivised through individual experiences of members of working-class community. It reproduces not only locally rooted representations of femininity and masculinity but also of members of families, of female and male employees, consumers and citizens.


Europe, as we perceive it now, strongly rests on the shoulders of the industrial age and the efforts of industrial labour. The towns and landscapes where we live, our experiences as well as those of our predecessors and our institutions still bear the traces of industrialism. Although industrial and manufacturing sectors might no longer be economic top priority, the identities of many Europeans still relate significantly to the industrial age and heritage. SPHERE shows that in significant areas of economic decline and restructuring, restructuring often takes the shape of feelings of loss of industrial labour, more or less egalitarian distribution policies and the collectiveness of industrial working classes as well as sometimes even spatial focus points of personal memories and biographies. There are regions in Europe where deindustrialisation, the scarcity of new jobs, and possibly also the related outbound migrations of the younger and better educated have created whole localities in disappointment, stagnation, and at times social unrest.

Looking for common elements in the identities of our interviewees, we could identify a strong sense of loss and sometimes even the feeling of one’s own work life having been devalued in on-going deindustrialisation and structural change. Not only the roles, deeds and economic contributions of the workers but also labour’s social worth and integrative power have been made to appear worthless and obsolete by change. This feeling is weaker among women and younger workers, stronger among older or retired male industrial or mining workers, but strongest in those places and among people where socioeconomic change had been enforced through heavy political conflicts including violence, be it directly, as in the miners’ strikes in UK and Turkey, or indirectly, as in France and the UK, where the spatial traces of industrialism had been eradicated from the surface This happened with the pit-head baths, colliery winding shafts and slag heaps in South Yorkshire and with the tearing down of a huge 150-year-old paper mill in the Corbeil-Essonnes area, which once had employed thousands of people. It seems to be easier to cope with those changes if the company where people has worked for half their lives is still in place, if the buildings are in different use but still existing, and if the city or town gives space, time and resources for collective memories, showing that the work lives of present or previous generations are not obsolete.

People’s minds and memories are quite strongly attached to spatial structures: In a former steel town in northern Bavaria, former steelworkers take family Sunday afternoon walks to a place where the last furnace has been buried under a mound of earth and slag, lying in a birch forest which had been the steel mill’s open air store ground 40 years ago – although there are not any visible memorabilia there, except for those who know. Industrial identities do severely need and search for spaces and places to reproduce and perform their memory, even if nobody else cares. This need can be taken up and integrated into community actions. Years after its closure, a former rolling mill in Nuremberg has been transformed into an ‘industrial culture’-museum and public event site, where grandfathers show their grandchildren the once famous locomotives, motorbikes and steel rails they made when they were young, while music concerts or poets readings are taking place in other parts of the building. Or, in a Polish ex-mining town, memory plates, refurbished miners settlement and a mining museum help to underline the meaning mining and miners had for economic development and Polish history in a city still suffering from deindustrialization but also reinventing itself in other economic activities.

From the beginning SPHERE has paid special attention to gender in addressing its main questions. Certain gender-related conclusions have also emerged from the research. One of the pillars of the old industrial culture was the patriarchal model of family. It seems that this model is still present, but is in decline. The dominant family model after deindustrialisation seems to be the modified traditional model, as it preserves the residues of the patriarchal model of symbolic power and a stereotypical division of female and male competences. The model standardizes women’s professional activity but at the same time power within the family is re-negotiated and diversified. In general, in the European regions the project has studied there is convergence in the roles of women and men of the working-class in the fields of family, education, occupation and public activity. Thus, women are now more active in the workforce and public sphere than in the past. Yet, they are still less active than men; more often experience long-time unemployment; are more often than men employed on short-term contracts; earn less than men for the same job; often work in the informal economy without social protection; are double burdened with unpaid housework and paid work.

One further aim of SPHERE was to look for patterns and traces of a European identity. Strikingly, there was not a single trace of either a positive or a negative relationship with Europe. Europe was conspicuously absent in the memories and personal narratives of the people, regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity or living situation. We therefore conclude that although deindustrialisation and economic decline has brought forth a number of issues related to identity, a notion of a European identity, either in a negative or positive sense, has not been highly relevant to the local attempts to cope with the problems associated with deindustrialisation.


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Potential Impact:
SPHERE had the following objectives related to dissemination of its research and findings:

• To present the project to the public and general public relations work.
• To build in a range of dissemination strategies for a wide audience.
• To construct interesting and accessible project websites.
• To employ local photographers at an early stage of the research and throughout the main period of the research activity.
• To involve local people in the production of photography for the site.
• To ensure 6 regional photographic exhibitions.
• To ensure wide accessibility of material to the regions and other stake-holders.
• To produce a regular newsletter.
• To ensure academic journal publication and book contract based on thematic findings.
• To organise an international conference.

The consortium have attached paramount importance to dissemination activities since the onset of the project and thus striven to fulfill these objectives as much as possible. The dissemination activities of SPHERE can be classified and presented in 7 categories.

• Project website(s)
• Newsletters
• Regional advisory groups
• Photographic exhibitions: Images of Change
• Local impact and Media Coverage
• Publication
• Final Conference


A very important part of the dissemination efforts of the project were the central website and the national websites. They were successfully established in the first period of the project and have been working properly since then.

The project’s central website is in English and national ones are in their national languages.

The URLs for the websites are as follows:

Central Website



IAB projektbeschreibung.aspx


UCM and UM


Two newsletters were produced from the 6-month progress reports and were published in the international web page. The third newsletter included detailed information about the international final conference held in Ankara at the end of the project duration.

In addition, University of Silesia research team produced a brochure advertising the project in general and the outlines of fieldwork. The brochure is both in English and Polish.


In order to develop positive relations with regional and national audiences, partners followed a strategy of working closely with regional advisory groups. All partners held regular meetings with the local stakeholders who were part of the regional advisory group. Especially strong were the connections the WLRI established with the regional advisory board in France. The board became an almost organic part of research and helped the research team a great deal with the collection of visual and other data and the organization of the photographic exhibition.


To publicize the project and disseminate findings, the project’s partners started to collect visual materials early on during their field researches.The partners have been aware that visual materials are both part of the research itself and an important component of dissemination efforts. Moreover, they have realized the relevant workpackage’s importance for drawing the local public’s and policy-makers’ attention to different processes that are going on in regions that have experienced deindustrialisation. Thus, the consortium partners strove to coordinate work on these two aspects of collecting and using visual material.

In the first period, the partners established informal contacts with local photographers. In the second period, all partners formalized the contacts they had already established with the local photographers in the first period. The photographers completed their work on the ground in this period and the teams worked on the photographs to be included in the exhibitions. Moreover, the partners agreed that the national exhibitions should have international components. The international component of the exhibitions was coordinated by the WLRI team (France). The national exhibitions as well as the international dimension was discussed in detail in Paris and Katowice international steering committee meetings and the decisions were finalized in the London meeting. A number of photographs with captions and supported by background information from all research regions were selected to form an international exhibition. The designs were also completed and as a result, an international exhibition with 16 panels (4 panels per country) were prepared. METU, WLRI and US teams decided to use these panels in addition to their own ones in the local exhibitions that they would hold. The exhibitions that would be organized by IAB and UCM-UM would also include photographs from other regions, but these teams chose to use the photographs and the designs of their own choosing.

In the third reporting period, the partners finalized designs, printed the photographs, prepared the invitations, posters and pamphlets, and arranged venues for the exhibitions. What follows is a partner by partner account of the photographic exhibitions:


Partner 1 finalized all the work relating to the exhibition and held two exhibitions shortly after the end of the duration of the project. The first venue was the university itself whereas the second took place in the research region of the partner.

Cultural and Convention Center, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey (in conjunction with the project final conference):
29 September – 10 October 2011

Zonguldak Karaelmas University, Zonguldak, Turkey:
28 December 2011 – 31 January 2012; an inaugural conference on 28 December 2011


The partner worked on its own exhibition as well as contributed to the international component of the other partners’ exhibitions. It has arranged 3 venues for the exhibition:

Departmental Archives of Essonnes, Essonnes, France:
14 January to 16 march 2012; 2 conferences on 11 February and 10 March 2012

Centre de ressources des politiques de la ville Evry, Evry, France:
19 March to 16 April 2012; 1 inaugural event on 30 march 2012 and another event on 4 April

Maison de banlieue et d'architecture, Athis Mons, France
November, December 2012


Due to delays in the photographers work through summer, the exhibition plans proceeded more slowly than planned. The German photographer is Berny Meyer, one of Nuremberg's most renowned photographers.

Two exhibition venues were selected and arranged. The exact dates of the exhibitions were about to be finalized when the report was put into writing.

Museum Industriekultur in Nuremberg
The Cultural Center K4

If the first two exhibitions are successful, there are plans to organize exhibitions at:

Nuremberg Trade Union House
Bavarian Metalworkers Union Headquarters in Munich
Headquarters of the German Federal Labour Agency


The partner has organized two exhibitions, both of which have already taken place.

Silesian Library, Katowice, Poland
5-31 December 2011. The official inaugural event took place was on December 12th.

University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland:
15 February - 5 March 2012

Afterwards the exhibition will move to Faculty of Social Sciences and Museum "Sztygarka" in
Dąbrowa Górnicza.


The partner has organized two exhibitions, both of which have already taken place.

Museo del Calzado de Elda, Elda, Spain:
23 September – 16 October 2011

Edificio del Viaducto de la Escuela Politécnica, Alcoy, Spain
Superior de Alcoi-UPV (Hospital Sueco-Noruego).
12 February 2011 – 8 January 2012.


Even if the target of signing a book contract was set for the month 26 in Annex I, the project secured a book contract with Palgrave Macmillan well before the deadline. The editors and the consortium partners worked intensively on the book especially during the second reporting period. Final editing of the book was completed in the third reporting period and the book was released in October 2011. The chapters are based on the national state-of-art reports prepared as part of Workpackage 3.We believe that the book is one of the most significant outcomes of the consortium’s dissemination efforts. Here is the bibliographical information of the book:

John Kirk, Sylvie Contrepois and Steve Jefferys (eds.), Changing Work and Community Identities in European Regions: Perspectives On Past And Present, Hampshire: Palgrave McMillan, 2011

Information about the book can be found at:

Moreover, the consortium secured another book contract. The synthesis and national reports of Workpackage 5 will be revised and published as an edited book. The provisional title is:

Kazimiera Wodz and Monika Gnieciak (eds.), Restructuring Gender and Class, Katowice: University of Silesia Press, 2012

In addition, an article that came out of the work related to the project was submitted and accepted for publication: Sylvie Contrepois, “Identités collectives, territoires et mémoires. De l’usage de la mémoire locale dans l’analyse des transformations du travail et des identités sociales”, Conserveries Memoriales

The project members will continue their efforts to disseminate the scientific and policy outcomes of the project. The international steering committee meeting that took place in Ankara following the final conference was largely devoted to this issue. The consortium agreed to work on 12 possible articles for peer-reviewed journals and the leading partners for each article was determined. The partners have already begun working on the first drafts of those articles. The consortium agreed on 12 possible articles for peer-reviewed journals and the leading partners for each article was determined. The partners have already begun working on the first drafts of those articles. Here are the possible article topics and the leading and contributing partners that are working on the articles.

Community and individualism: UCM and WLRI
Industrial heritage: UCM and WLRI
Trade unions and strike: METU and US
Contestation and resistance: WLRI and UCM
Changing gender relations: IAB and METU
Restructuring of class: WLRI and US
Nostalgia and ‘Golden Age’: WLRI
Consumption: US and IAB
Migration and mobility: IAB and METU
Representations:WLRI and UCM
Space and regeneration: METU and IAB


The project managed to create some impact in the regions on which it focused. The field trip organized in January 2010 as part of the international steering committee meeting in Paris got covered in the local press. Moreover, METU team’s field research was covered in the local TV and newspapers in Zonguldak. Likewise, the US team gave interviews to the university newsletter and two local newspapers in Katowice.

The exhibitions organized by UCM-UMU and US were covered by the local press.,inauguracion-exposicion-susana-pla.html

The project in general was also covered by the Katowice edition of Poland’s leading daily as well as other media:

• GW,,35019,9038657,Mieszkancy_zdegradowanych_dzielnic_sa_jak_slimaki.html
• Gazeta Uniwersytecka, nr 3 (183), December 2010 (official journal of Silesian University)
• Gazeta Wyborcza, Anna Malinowska "Mieszkańcy zdegradowanych dzielnic sa jak slimaki, 1 February 2012
• Polska Dziennik Zachodni, (most popular local paper, distr. c. 300,000), Grazyna Kuźnik, "Koniec swiata robotniczych osiedli", 31 January 2011,mieszkancy-poprzemyslowych-terenow-woj-slaskiego-zyja,id,t.html
• Regional internet portal:


Another important dissemination effort of the project during its last phase was the international final conference. The conference was held on 29-30 September 2011 in the Çobanoğlu Hall of Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences in Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. Its title was “Rethinking Community and Identity in European Regions in Decline”. A total of 16 papers, 8 of which were presented by scholars from without the project, were presented in the two-day event. The conference therefore provided a platform through which the consortium members and other scholars could share approaches, data, and outcomes relevant to SPHERE as well as other research projects. Particularly noteworthy in this sense was the participation of Robert Miller, the coordinator of EUROINDENTITIES, another EU-funded collaborative project. The conference was a great success academically; there were very lively discussions in all sessions. The conference also enabled the project partners to share the conclusions of research in their own countries as well as of the project in general with Turkish academics and graduate students who were in the audience.


The following implications and recommendations do not include the obvious needs for new jobs, infrastructural improvement, palns for sound and sustainable regional development, and welfare state activities in those areas. Due to the SPHERE project design, however, our main focus is on cultural and identity aspects.

To limit the feeling of loss and obsolescence, and the resulting sense of degradation of life, the industrial heritage of certain regions as well as of Europe as a whole should be accepted, acknowledged and valued. Unresolved problems and trauma for the individual can accumulate subconsciously, creating dangers for mental health and leading to deviant behaviour, if they are not given space and ways to be articulated, expressed and discussed. In a similar vein, collective experiences, memories and social identities, even those of former social formations should be given space, resources and ways to articulate themselves. This would allow them to be properly integrated into the lives undergoing change and helps increase understanding of historical processes.

Positive ways of acknowledging the industrial heritage and industrially moulded life-histories, biographies and identities need space, time, resources and participation. Facilitating the spatial dimension means accepting and respecting the existing social structure of space and representations of the past within it. This could be achieved through developing various loci within urban spaces to serve as bridges between past and present.

People’s minds and memories are quite strongly attached to spatial structures; there are striking examples of this from Northern Bavaria and Nurnberg to Corbeil-Essonnes, from Zonguldak to the Polish mining towns. The second, temporal dimension involves positively acknowledging the local industrial heritage and workers’ biographies. Time here is not only meant as the sum of hours of public attention given to the industrial heritage, but also the time needed to reproduce and integrate memories based on the questions ‘whose time, which time, and at what time’. In other words, which generations have what kind of memories, about which time period and when? A positive example might be the industrial cultural movement’s focus on the 1900-1945 period during the 1970s and 1980s, when it supported workers and activists in reflecting on their own biographies.

Remembering and reflecting on the past, making one's own life course a biography to help make sense of one’s life seems to be a project of the older generation, although involved professionals like teachers, historians and archivists may be of younger age, too. Of course, this can lead to certain mismatches of professional and individual reflection when, for example, the feelings of an older workers’ generation are expressed through the media used by a younger generation. It is thus important to include reflections on which age group needs which kind of memory and reflections with which kind of media.

Such a project needs much action and reflection, by professionals and volunteers, preserving, reconstructing and maintaining selected sites, generating concepts, exhibitions, presentations and the like. All of this could be quite costly. But it provides a unique chance for the EU to take up a positive role in strengthening the sense of identity of its less privileged citizens in some its depraved regions. By putting resources into activities aiming at the general and local acknowledgement of Europe’s industrial heritage that help affirm the importance of place and space in shaping identities, the EU might get much in return. Respecting place and people, these actions may reduce the social conflicts, anomie and social unrest that result from unacknowledged or unrecognized ruptures in identity caused by socioeconomic transformations.

One crucial dimension for the success of such a policy is participation. Helping to recognize and acknowledge local industrial heritage and biographies should not be seen as an integrative social technology invented by the EU to keep social problems out of sight, or as a kind of bait for people’s commitment to European citizenship. Only if those women and men who have led their industrial lives in these communities are encouraged to participate and codetermine with politicians and professional experts how acknowledging and reproducing the memory of local industrial Europe should take place, will there be a good chance of success. This means that the full contradictory nature of industrial work, the political and industrial struggles, the historical processes with all their facets, and the diversity of inputs and outcomes will have to find a their way in. Identity formation will then not be confined to a 'dusty' museum, but be an open process of interpreting the past, in which identities can not only be reflected, but also reassured or modified.

This investment will also provide the chance to collectivize and engage in participation in questions of the present, a key issue in European identity and citizenship. If the EU provides funds for setting new signposts to walking and hiking paths to contribute to the development of tourism, the SPHERE research shows that it is worth thinking about systematically funding the biographic re-appropriation and social recognition of Europe’s industrial past. This would be to the benefit of both those who have been set aside by socioeconomic change and the rest of Europeans.

List of Websites:

Project coordinator:
E. Attila Aytekin
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science and Public Administration
Middle East Technical University
06800 Ankara, Turkey
Phone: (90) (312) 210-2072