Governing ‘places that don’t matter’ : agonistic spatial planning practices in Finnish peripheral regions

Hanna Mattila*, Eva Purkarthofer, Alois Humer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
103 Downloads (Pure)


Economic geographer Andrés Rodríguez-Pose argued recently that declining peripheries are increasingly becoming ‘places that don’t matter’ in the formation or implementation of national or European Union (EU) regional policies. In turn, this might result in a triumph of populist anti-establishment movements in peripheries, posing a threat to well-being in both the prospering and the declining regions. We argue that ‘places that don’t matter’ also exist in Finland, a country that has a long tradition of regional policy and equalizing welfare schemes. Our focus is on administration rather than politics, however. We look at the Finnish peripheral regions of Kainuu and Lapland, discussing the practices of spatial planners, who influence and implement EU and national regional policies in these regions. We ask how strategic spatial planning in Kainuu and Lapland is affected by the revengeful and antagonistic attitudes towards the ‘elites’ who, allegedly, are not directing a sufficient amount of attention to the peripheries. We look at the planning practices and institutional settings within which they work from the perspective of agonistic planning theory, asking whether and how spatial planners can turn the antagonistic and potentially revengeful attitudes into productive forces that could positively affect spatial development in these regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-832
Number of pages20
Issue number4
Early online date17 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • agonistic planning
  • Kainuu
  • Lapland
  • spatial planning
  • periphery
  • regional planning
  • regional policy
  • Finland


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