Articles | Volume 56, issue 4
31 Dec 2001
 | 31 Dec 2001

The quest for the regional city : new identities and institutional conditions in a context of metropolitan fragmentation

W. Salet

Abstract. The significance of urban identity is beginning to extend outwards from the cities into metropolitan regions. This article has examined how institutional frameworks affect the flexibility of these new regions. It has been noted that spatial development policy should ideally be conducted at the local level in close collaboration with initiatives in the private sector. However, the structure of policy competences is not always perfectly arranged to achieve this. Issues of redistribution, on the other hand, are a matter which should be addressed at the central level. It is further argued that the principles of local accountability and electoralism should be carefully balanced. If their relationship is biased too much in one direction or the other, this can frustrate the flexibility of metropolitan regions. Finally, it is emphasised that new metropolitan regions have generally not yet developed a strong identity of their own. Citizens and politicians still tend to identify too much with the old core cities, which are no longer the sole heart of urban life. It is therefore important that new regional identities be mobilised.