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What 'is' territorial cohesion? What does it 'do'?: Essentialist versus pragmatic approaches to using concepts

Abrahams, Gareth 2014. What 'is' territorial cohesion? What does it 'do'?: Essentialist versus pragmatic approaches to using concepts. European Planning Studies 22 (10) , pp. 2134-2155. 10.1080/09654313.2013.819838

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The question, “what is territorial cohesion” has reverberated through European spatial policy since the publication of the European Spatial Development Perspective in 1999. Over the last 10 years, the European Spatial Policy Observation Network (ESPON) has made many efforts to define and measure the concept of “territorial cohesion”. Many such attempts assume that a policy concept must be defined in order to be “operationalized”. Or, in other words, that we must determine what the concept is before we can determine what it can or should do. This paper challenges this assumption in two parts. In the first, I review a number of ESPON projects to show how complex and uncertain these essentialist definitions have become. In the second, I analyse a number of national, regional and local government responses to the 2008 Green paper. I show that, whilst a clear and coherent definition has not been established, this concept is already operationalized in different policy frameworks. Bringing this together, I argue that users of such concepts ought to approach the issue differently, through a pragmatic line of enquiry: one that asks what territorial cohesion does, what it might do and how it might affect what other concepts, practices and materials do.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0965-4313
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:04

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