Regional Development and Social Innovation
While recent developments in digitalization are sometimes regarded as a threat, they may also provide the potential for participatory regional development. This may be particularly positive for sustainable development of rural areas at risk of demographic decline. In our research, we aim at synthesizing, systematizing, and analyzing Europe-wide examples of ‘good practice’ related to digital strategies and instruments that may foster participatory regional development. Based on this synthesis, we aim at developing an orientation framework for participatory regional development.
Research questions related to this research area are: how can digitalization contribute to a positive interpretation of rural areas or rural identification? How can the potential of digitalization be used for participatory regional development? In particular, how can place attachment be strengthened? And how may contributors only digitally present be involved? How can place attachment counter depopulation and migration? And how can digital tools be used to successfully address pivotal challenges of rural regions such as brain drain and youth drain? Which strategies have already been successfully pursued based on such questions? What criteria of good practice for participatory digital regional development result from examples available in Europe?
By addressing these questions, we aim at providing a deeper insight into patterns and processes of place attachment in times of digitization and demographic change. At the same time, we aim at providing a toolbox for the target-oriented design of programs for rural regions. Given the lower carbon footprint of rural populations, this also contributes to sustainable development.