Values in a vacuum? Towards an integrated multi-level analysis of the governance of European space

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Series Details Volume 12, Number 8, Pages 1175-1188
Publication Date 2004
ISSN 0965-4313
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This article calls for a new analytical approach to address how the emergence of a new European spatial policy field conditions policy‐making and implementation across Europe. This is now urgent because as the new policy field takes shape, its core ideas and values are being contested across different scales, sectors and territories of governance, creating new debates and arenas where understandings of space, place and connectivity, and relations between environment, society and economy, are being recast in a European light.

In the full flow of generating a new policy field, we still seem to know little about what is being put at stake, or specifically how this is occurring. A value‐driven critical response from the research community is therefore needed, informed by research activity reaching across many dimensions of governance and policy‐making. The point of developing such an approach is not to discount previous research, but to explore how to generate synthetic and critical insights from different disciplinary and conceptual approaches within an integrated analytical framework.

After this discussion, we conclude by proposing that IMAGES (Integrated Multi‐level Analysis of the Governance of European Space) can provide such a framework for analysing the emerging policy field of European spatial polices by constructing narratives of how spatial policy ideas and concepts turn into programming space, and how different territories interrelate with these policy concepts, and at the same time contribute to shaping them. This viewpoint and framework are predicated on the authors' belief that values behind the concepts remain hidden at present, both in policy processes and related research.

Spatial policies seem to happen in a vacuum of values. By putting spatial justice as a value into this vacuum and by exploring the multi‐level governance of European space within an integrative analytical framework, the further development and application of the IMAGES framework can fulfil the need to contest the idea of objective policy‐making and analysis in European spatial policy.

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