Culture and urban regeneration: the role of the European Union regional policy

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During the last two decades several European cities have changed significantly their social, economic and institutional identity. This changing is the effect of a long term process of economic restructuring after the decline of the Fordist regime and the rising of the globalization. The policy of economic regeneration and the re-scaling of city’s political economy within the inter-urban and regional competion is one of the most relevant consequence of this process. It is universally recognized that the strategies for the transformation of an old industrial city into a service-based ones require not only interventions on the “hard factors” but also on the “soft factors” of urban development: an innovative and vibrant urban environment is considered a crucial ingredient for the success of a post-industrial city.Recently cultural themes have played a crucial role in the urban regeneration strategies promoted by various European cities. The multiple meanings that the concept of culture embodies are such that they have caused these initiatives to be inspired by diversified objectives: redefine the identity of a city by making it more attractive and competitive in the global scenario, sustain the economic revitalization, and reduce social and spatial marginality in disadvantaged districts.In light of the critical interpretations of such initiatives, this paper intends to explore the role of the European Union in the promotion of cultural activities within the regional cohesion policy and in the field of urban regeneration initiatives. Particular attention has been addressed to the strategies and policies carried out in Southern Italy, together with case studies (Naples and Palermo) which assist in reflecting on the opportunities and the limitations of these initiatives over the last few years.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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