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A Solution in Search of a Problem: A ‘Garbage Can’ Approach to the Politics of Territorial Cohesion

Author(s): David Evers

Journal: European Journal of Spatial Development
ISSN 1650-9544

Volume: February;
Issue: 45;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: territorial cohesion | garbage can model | European integration | spatial planning | cohesion policy

Those who promote spatial planning or spatial policy at the European level have increasingly done so under the banner of ‘territorial cohesion’. Since the inclusion of this term in the draft constitution as an objective of the European Union, territorial cohesion has drawn the attention of an increasing number of actors and interests. By virtue of its vague but undeniably positive connotation, it is emerging as a successful metaphor in European policy discourse. In this paper it is argued that the territorial cohesion policy process should be understood in terms of the opportunities the concept presents to individual actors to solve contingent problems. Linking the ‘solution’ of territorial cohesion to different problems (garbage can model) has resulted in the production of a plurality of oftentimes mutually exclusive interpretations. Nevertheless, in the discursive struggle for hegemony between these interpretations, some progress is being made towards a common understanding.

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