The Role of Small Towns in Local Place Making

Bernadett Csurgó 1  and Boldizsár Megyesi 1
  • 1 Senior research fellow, Institute for Sociology of HAS Centre for Social Sciences, Országház u. 30, H-1014 Budapest, Hungary

Abstract

Self-promotion and reinterpretation of local identity is becoming increasingly important in rural communities. Local identity building is succeeded very differently by rural municipalities and regions. The paper analyses the role of small towns in local identity creation. There are varying interpretations of places in Hungary as ways of achieving meaningful territorialisation. Small towns based on their leading and central position within the micro regions can dominate the place-making processes. Using the example of six Hungarian rural micro-regions we analyse how rural small towns position themselves by local image building. The aim of this paper is to investigate interactions between territorial position and innovative capacity of rural towns through the analysis of symbolisation process and image building. We purpose to introduce a concept of a place oriented approach and demonstrate its usefulness for analysis of rural innovation and place-based development. The case-studies are based on qualitative methods: document-analysis, semi-structured interviews, transect walking and participatory observation. The paper analyses the process of local community and identity building in six rural micro-regions. We seek to understand how small towns position themselves in place-making, the aim of ‘placing’ themselves in the territorial hierarchy of the settlements of micro region. Our results suggest that small towns play very different roles in local image building. Characteristics and territorial scope of local cultural heritage significantly determine the innovative capacity of small towns in local image building where there is a wide range of meanings procedures and processes of place-making.

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