Narratives of peripheralisation: Place, agency and generational cohorts in post-industrial Estonia

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Series Details Volume 25, Number 4, Pages 391-404
Publication Date October 2018
ISSN 0969-7764 (print) | 1461-7145 (online)
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Research on spatial polarisation in Central and Eastern Europe has tended to focus on macro-economic processes that create certain places and people as peripheral and has highlighted the socioeconomic impact of peripheralisation, while paying only limited attention to local experiences and responses.

Drawing on a multiscalar conception of peripheralisation processes, the article examines the making of socio-spatial inequalities from the perspective of the periphery and foregrounds the narrative practices through which actors negotiate peripheralisation processes, focusing on the case of Narva, a former industrial city in Estonia’s Northeastern region. In the face of negative structural dynamics, actors rework their peripheral status by articulating a positive sense of belonging, claiming recognition based on their work and trying to exert control over their futures.

The paper particularly highlights generational differences within these narrative responses to spatial inequalities. While older working-class populations’ narratives are shaped by collective and place-based resilience, the post-socialist generation employs more individualised strategies in the face of peripheralisation and exercises agency by detaching themselves from place. Analysing these responses, the article draws attention to constrained agency as well as cultural differentiation within peripheral communities.

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