Space and Society

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In today's world, more of us are shopping online, working remotely and assigning the care of the elderly to foreign employees. These are just a few examples of how globalisation, digitisation, international migration and urbanisation are changing our society and economy. At the same time, these phenomena are also changing the physical form of the areas we live in and determining new settlement dynamics. Around the mountain ranges specifically, small shops are being closed with the buildings being repurposed, and people from abroad are settling in depopulated villages and taking on traditional activities.

This obviously leads to several questions to be asked about the current situation. What specific effects do these occurrences have on the territory? What changes do they cause in society and spatially? Do they generate bigger socio-economic inequalities or higher general well-being? Are they leading to more networking and cultural diversity or more increased spatial separation? What roles do physical features – such as sea level or limited accessibility of living and working spaces – play in shaping social transformation processes?

The research group "Space and Society" is looking for the answers to these questions. We analyse social phenomena from a spatial perspective, following an interdisciplinary approach that combines sociology, geography and cultural studies. We explain today's socio-spatial changes and identify the main participants of social change. We focus on the processes that take place in the background and on how spatial design influences our lives.

In our projects, in South Tyrol and other regions, we study demographic changes, national and international migration. We focus on their distributions, causes and ef fects. We analyse how social innovation affects mountain communities and identify policies which can help these communities achieve social and economic well-being. We aim to investigate how material and immaterial cultural heritage can not only promote local development and identity, but also support cultural diversity and social inclusion.

Objectives

  • Cartographic representations
  • Participatory approach
  • Qualitative and quantitative methods

Main topics

  • Social and spatial changes
  • Territorialisation processes
  • National and international migration
  • Social innovation and local development
  • Cultural heritage and identity forms
  • Urban and rural mountain areas
Institute
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Eurac Research is a private research center based in Bolzano (South Tyrol) with researchers from a wide variety of scientific fields who come from all over the globe. Together, through scientific knowledge and research, they share the goal of shaping the future.

What we do

Our research addresses the greatest challenges facing us in the future: people need health, energy, well-functioning political and social systems and an intact environment. These are complex questions, and we are seeking the answers in the interaction between many different disciplines. In so doing, our research work embraces three major themes: regions fit for living in, diversity as a life-enhancing feature, a healthy society.

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