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Regionalpolitikens diskursiva grunder och gränser: Om politik, makt och kunskap i det regionala samhällsbyggandet
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Political, Historical, Religious and Cultural Studies.
2014 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The Discursive Foundations and Limits of Regional Policy : The Politics, Power and Knowledge of Regional Governance (English)
Abstract [en]

The change in regional governance in Sweden is regularly understood in terms of a shift from ’government’ to ’governance’, from a redistributive policy to a policy that aims to encourage regional innovation, competitiveness and growth. This shift also includes the adoption of global policy models, such as ’clusters’.  In the literature on the global spread of policies it has been argued that a market for global policies has developed. This is not least evident through the expansion of global consultancy firms, international policy organisations as well as a cosmopolitan elite of travelling policy technocrats.

Theoretically and methodologically this study contributes to scholarly discussions of how new forms of governance can be analysed, and especially how governmentality studies can be utilised and combined with analyses of the messy political practices of specific policies and programs. The study analyses the discursive shift in regional policy in Sweden: contested elements erased, conflicts concealed and the political order produced. By empirically departing from a ’cluster policy network’ lodged within a Swedish region, cluster policy is analysed as an assemblage of global circuits of knowledge, expertise and local relations of power. A broad range of materials for analysis have been generated through interviews, participant observations and documents.

The production of policy knowledge is an overarching political rationality of contemporary forms of regional governance, translated into technologies such as benchmarking, regional comparisons, competitions, evaluations and best-practice. Based on the empirical analyses it is argued that the lack of power critique and a hyper-rational representation of knowledge produce an international market for legitimacy. It is further argued that five characteristics of the policy regime (’the regional cluster orchestra’) contributes to the reproduction of the policy regime, and relations of domination.


Abstract [sv]


Avhandlingen tar sin utgångspunkt i vad som har beskrivits som en marknad för globala policymodeller. I Sverige har klusterbegreppet, med ursprung i ekonomisk och geografisk teoribildning, fått stort genomslag i regionalpolitiken. I den samtida regionalpolitiken har också produktionen av olika former av policykunskap utvecklats till centrala styrningsteknologier: benchmarking, best practice, utvärderingar, uppföljningar, mätningar och konkurrensutsatta tävlingar om regionala utvecklingsmedel. Genom kunskap och ständigt lärande ska Sveriges regioner frälsas.

I avhandlingen studeras den scen där ett regionalt förankrat policynätverk agerar och den kunskap som produceras. Regionalpolitikens rationalitet innebär att det blir centralt för regionerna att agera som enhetliga aktörer och visa upp en lyckad och framgångsrik fasad. Det argumenteras för att bristen på maktanalys, och en hyperrationell syn på kunskap i regionalpolitiken innebär att regionalpolitikens styrningsteknologier producerar en internationell marknad för legitimitet som i sin tur reproducerar ordningen och döljer dominansrelationer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2014. , 316 p.
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2014:24
Keyword [en]
new regionalism, cluster policy, policy mobility, policy regime, assemblage, hegemony, governmentality, political practices
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-31786ISBN: 978-91-7063-555-7OAI: diva2:708513
Public defence
2014-05-16, Agardhsalen 11D 257, Universitetsgatan 1, Karlstad, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2014-04-25 Created: 2014-03-28 Last updated: 2014-04-25Bibliographically approved

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