Regional policy, social networks and informal structures
"This paper presents a study on regional development and innovation systems. The theoretical points of departure are gender theory and two perspectives from human geography and sociology: the theory of network governance for regional development and the theory of homosocial networks. The regional policy of the EU today is characterized by a strongly emphasized governance model: i.e., an orientation towards networks and cluster initiatives. The 2004–2007 regional development programme in Värmland, a Swedish county, is a template for this policy. Its basic principles included partnership engagements, networking, EU-specific linguistic usage and superstar rhetoric. However, this seemingly innovative regional policy has roots in traditional industrial society (ironworks and paper mills). The network-planning model allows informal social structures to re-enter the arena of regional planning. Gender equality in regional government policy was challenged by the presence of a homosocial shadow (seamy-side) structure, such as secret networks and clubs on the outside of the official organizations. Networks were also important in the reproduction of traditional power structures, male dominance and hegemony. One conclusion we reach is that networking can be used mutually as a progressive force and as a conservative tool among actors in the innovation of policy."