BSc Thesis opportunity: The Human Factor in Place-shaping

We are looking for motivated BSc students that are interested in writing a thesis with the Rural Sociology Group on the topic of place-shaping. The student will engage in a literature-based study, starting literature will be provided by the supervisor. The report will preferably be written in English.

  1. The (re-)appreciation of places; paying attention to socio-cultural practices; people’s sense of place; regional identities, narratives and story-lines, and branding of places[1];
  2. Individual values and collective culture as the ‘inner’ dimension of sustainability; addressing questions such as: why would people get engaged in sustainability initiatives and self-organization; how and why do people value places but also oppose to the spatial planning of new projects, such as wind-energy parks; how are citizens initiatives and place-shaping influenced by awareness, culture, identities and values; Which ‘policy scripts’ can be identified addressing the role of culture in places?
  3. Collective agency, emerging grassroots initiatives, alliances and coalitions; addressing the questions: how can spatial development enable the ‘energetic society’? How do people on the local and regional administrative level reflect on and negotiate the conditions of their engagement in place-shaping, how do they express agency and create a countervailing power in rural and urban development; how can effective (public-private) alliances and coalitions be build?
  4. Leadership of place; which acknowledges the role of shared, collaborative (knowledge) leadership in building collective agency, in attuning the institutional setting to the specificities of place, thus enabling a place-based approach.
  5. Methodology; Qualitative case-study research; Participatory approaches; Action-research; Value-oriented approach, Appreciative Inquiry.

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If you are interested in one of the topics mentioned above, please get in touch with Ina Horlings.

[1] Horlings, L.G. (2012) Place branding by building coalitions; lessons from rural-urban regions in the Netherlands, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 8: 295-309.

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