In the present post-Fordist epoch, the region has emerged as a strategic site for socioeconomic governance. The region today is viewed as a key centre in processes of capital accumulation and (re) production and it occupies an important position in regulating social life. Yet, little is known about the spatial representations held by people about the regions in which they live. This article aims to contribute to fill this gap, by exploring two interrelated issues: what people mean by region and how they relate their sentiment of regional identity to the regional administrative space to which they belong. The study relies on focus group discussions and individual interviews administered in four West European regions. The empirical research suggests that the region is constructed by people as a geographically ambiguous reference and that their sense of regional identity is not necessarily directed towards the region as an administrative space. This challenges the correspondence between function (governance) and identity theorized by the literature on the institutionalization of regions.
- Western Europe