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Urban Decline and Failed Reconversion Process: the Role of "Path Dependence" and Governance Theories in Local Actors' Strategies. The Case of Langreo (Spain)


Journal: Romanian Review of Regional Studies
ISSN 1841-1576

Volume: VIII;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 3;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Governance | Path dependence | Shrinking city | Urban project | Spain

During the sixties and the seventies, most of the European cities suffered an economic crisis and an urban restructuring process, particularly the traditional industrial cities and regions. These places suffered a deep slow-down in their growth and a decline process. In Spain, Asturias is one of the most affected regions by the crisis, and the Asturian cities specialized in the mining activity and the traditional industry (Avilés, Gijón, Langreo and Mieres) entered a process of decline in the sixties that in some cases continues today. In Langreo, the strong reindustrialisation policy developed by the local actors has not contributed to modify the image of “industrial city”. Today, the important presence of the industry in Langreo is paradoxical, when services are the economic driving force of the city and its principal source of employment. The lack of urban planning has given rise to a deteriorated urban landscape, where people do not wish to live today because of the proximity of industrial activities and the troubles that in some ways they cause. This paper analyses the unsuccessful process of urban and economic renovation as well as the current situation of Langreo. In order to do this, it uses a methodology that combines statistical information with interviews with local actors involved in the city’s development. The main results are: (i) A critical analysis of the situation of Langreo and its future perspectives, (ii) A summary of the contrast between the different models proposed by the local actors for the city and (iii) Some conclusions about the importance of executing an urban organization to fit the economic and employment parameters with the physical and territorial conditions of the city. Some issues like the different intensity in the implication of local agents, or the mechanism that govern the alliances between them also stand out.
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