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New Subject Positions for Non-Traditional Actors or Business as Usual in the Strong Region Discourse?
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2012 (English)In: Promoting Innovation: Policies, Practices and Procedures / [ed] Andersson, S, Berglund, K, Gunnarsson, E & Sundin, E, Stockholm: Vinnova , 2012, 68-90 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Swedish regional policy has moved from being ahighly centralised, national government regional policy aiming at levelling outterritorial differences and aiding problem regions to a more decentralised,neo-liberal policy focusing on promoting growth in the whole country. In this new policy, emphasis is placed on the need for increased entrepreneurship and the development of innovation systems in order to facilitate the region’s economic growth so that it becomes a strong region. Applying Carol Bacchi’s “What’s the Problem?” approach to government policy documents and reports concerning regional policy between 1993 and 2010, this chapter analyses the gendered consequences ofthe strong region discourse and asks what spaces and subject positions are being created for those who do not fit the strong region image? Who is constructed as the entrepreneurial citizen capable of promoting innovation? The chapter identifies several competing discourses at work: the strong region discourse, the gender equality for growth discourse, and the women as a problemin achieving regional development discourse. It argues that these are, somewhat paradoxically, complementary and contradictory - both opening and closing spaces and opportunities for subjectivities for women and other “Others”, particularly when gender, ethnicity and age intersect. It concludes that the male norm underlying the construction of entrepreneurship and innovation still continues to dominate and the networks and clusters that women engage in are generally not ascribed a place in innovation systems and consequently not defined as “innovation”. Nevertheless, although it still appears to be businessas usual, potential may lurk in the cracks between the representations of women, immigrants and young people, both as problems and as assets. These can perhaps provide opportunities to challenge the dominant gendered, radicalised and sexualised power relations in regional policy and the construction of innovation as “masculine”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Vinnova , 2012. 68-90 p.
Keyword [en]
gender, regional policy, growth, neoliberalism, subject positions, innovation
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-66590ISBN: 978-91-86517-71-7OAI: diva2:607802
Available from: 2013-02-25 Created: 2013-02-25 Last updated: 2013-06-26Bibliographically approved

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