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Narrative claims on regions: prospecting for spatial identities among social movements in Finland

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Regions have been regarded as processes, artefacts and discourses, and recently as ‘brands’ that various stakeholders use in marketing. Discourses on institutional regions are typically promoted by media, governmental bodies and planning organizations that draw on reputed collective regional identities—the expressions of past and current social discourses and cultural practices. However, such institutional regional discourses are often incongruous to spatial imaginaries of everyday life. This article scrutinizes the meanings of spatial attachment to citizens and explores to what extent regional identities are meaningful in everyday life. To avoid biased assumptions, focus-group interviews were carried out within four Finnish provinces among the members of four social movements. The results show that provincial spaces are not actively thought-and-practiced. Spatial identities are rather structured around personal experiences that typically accumulate in several locales, since personal histories are increasingly characterized by mobility. This article also recognizes that the everyday meanings of a socially constructed region are often generationally read and combine different historical narratives.
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