If Urban Regions are the Answer, What is the Question? Thoughts on the European Experience


This essay contributes to the current debate in the field of critical urban and regional studies on the meanings of the ‘regional’ and the ‘urban’. From a political science perspective, we focus on the European case. Firstly, we argue that the conception of the regional scale is not the same in various languages and traditions. Regions in Europe carry meanings and connotations that are not always easy to translate without losing their specific histories. Secondly, our analysis of contemporary debates on the ‘regional’ in the field of urban studies reveals that both practitioners and academics consider the regional scale mainly as a functional space, as the space for economic competitiveness. However, urban regions are also to be regarded as spaces for social and political mobilization. I argue that the political dimension of the ‘regional’ deserves more attention and that further research needs to be undertaken in this respect.