Making use of sense of place in amalgamated municipalities

Arie Stoffelen, Oscar Kamminga, Peter D. Groote, Erik Meijles, Gerd Weitkamp, Aline Hoving

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Political-administrative reorganizations are often underpinned by spatial and historical narratives to tap into people’s sense of place and, this way, justify the new territories. Using a mixed-methods study of the recently amalgamated municipality Het Hogeland (Netherlands), we studied how sense of place is politically mobilized and in what sense this corresponds with residents’ associations with their living environment. While inter-municipal collaboration had an administrative-jurisdictional logic, during the merger preparation, Het Hogeland mobilized the residents’ sense of place through references to the area’s landscape, its vernacular name and music. It also devised a participatory process involving citizen panels, polls and civil society input. Resident respondents showed strong merger support, and we found similarities between their sense of place and the municipality’s marketing. We conclude that political strategies that mobilize locally embedded socio-cultural narratives and add co-constructive elements can bridge the gap between citizen and politics that regularly occurs following territorial reorganizations.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalRegional and Federal Studies
Early online date9-Jan-2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9-Jan-2023


  • spatial identity
  • cultural landscape
  • place attachment
  • mental mapping
  • identity politics

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