Territorial changes and changing identities: how spatial identities are used in the up-scaling of local government in the Netherlands

This article analyses the use of local identities by local communities in two Dutch municipalities. This research was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of the Interior to better understand the role of local identities in municipal amalgamations. This article develops a conceptual framework based on the distinction between a primary identity based on the widely recognised dominant characteristics of the local community, and a secondary identity based on how communities within a municipality have learned over time to deal with these different primary local identities. During an amalgamation, this secondary identity disappears with the old municipality. The disappearance of the protective shield of a secondary identity exposes the underlying primary local identities, and can bring local identities into the centre of the local political debate. They can become more inward-oriented and focus more on their historical roots and their differences with others; they ‘thicken’ into resistance identities. In other cases, the secondary identity of a municipality is too weak and indistinct to support the primary local identities. Municipal amalgamation can then help to promote a new more attractive secondary, ‘thin’ regional identity based on a selection of characteristics of established primary local identities.

Published in Local Government Studies | Kees Terlouw | 2016, https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Territorial-changes-and-changing-identities%3A-how-in-Terlouw/024ae8c94fcce3868b1eab7b1461aab32b230a99, https://consensus.app/details/amalgamation-help-promote-identity-based-selection-terlouw/8382af5407935b9dab84f8cda62ec7dc/