Leveraging, Capture and Resistance: Local Adaptation of the Discourse on European Cohesion Policies in Italian Regions
Keywords:cohesion policy, topic modelling, discourse, public sphere, adaptation, Italy
Cohesion policy accounts for more than one third of the budget of the European Union, but research mostly focuses on economic aspects. In this paper we tackle the discursive dimension of cohesion policy, and in particular, we address the debate on newspapers at national and regional level. As regions can be deemed as the product of struggle over meaning, and as discourses are able to mould and change reality and how we perceive it, we explore the topics used by media when dealing with Cohesion Policy, and in particular we address to what extent national and regional debate differ, also considering regions that differ according to the effectiveness of funds’ management. We performed a topic model on newspapers articles, and we also collected economic data through Eurispes. Our findings point at three processes, which we called leverage, capture, and resistance, which define the local (regional) adaptation of national discourses on cohesion policy. These processes reflect entrenched power relations and depend on the specific context of programming periods, on contingent events, and on structural factors pertaining to regions’ history of economic and social development.
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