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Open AccessArticle

Place-Based Policies for Sustainability and Rural Development: The Case of a Portuguese Village “Spun” in Traditional Linen

Rural Sociology Group, Wageningen School of Social Sciences, Wageningen University, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
Department of Social, Political and Territorial Sciences & GOVCOPP—Research Unit on Governance, Competitiveness and Public Policies, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
LUKE—Natural Resources Institute, 00790 Helsinki, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(10), 289;
Received: 22 August 2019 / Revised: 24 September 2019 / Accepted: 4 October 2019 / Published: 14 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Social Policy)
In recent decades, European rural development policies have transitioned toward a more place-based approach. This claim rests on the assumption that the diversity of resources within rural areas can be a potential source for place-shaping practices and sustainability. Moreover, this shift away from a top-down sectorial toward a more territorial focus has also shed light on the importance of agency, relations, and how people engage. Many rural areas in Europe, and particularly in Portugal, have seen a withdrawal of focus away from agriculture toward more diversified activities, where place-based approaches can untap local potential, stimulate sustainable place-shaping practices, and create significant well-being. However, some rural communities have difficulties in capitalizing on them due to unfavorable demographics such as depopulation and aging, a focus on traditional industries, and a lack of technical knowledge. The aim of the article is to discuss the role of place-based policies for enabling place-shaping practices revolving around traditional resources in rural areas and their contribution to sustainability. The study briefly highlights the recent debate around European rural development policies and illustrates their implementation through place-shaping practices via a case study in a Portuguese rural village—Várzea de Calde. The village revalorized itself and is trying to tackle marginalization processes through its traditional linen, which is a local material and immaterial resource, via collective agency and a strong sense of identity. The case study will provide empirical insights in discussing the effects of sustainable place-shaping practices stimulating by place-based policy instruments. Our conclusions highlight the positive contributions toward sustainability through improvements in social (e.g., identity) and economic well-being. View Full-Text
Keywords: rural development; place-based policies; sustainability rural development; place-based policies; sustainability
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Vasta, A.; Figueiredo, E.; Valente, S.; Vihinen, H.; Nieto-Romero, M. Place-Based Policies for Sustainability and Rural Development: The Case of a Portuguese Village “Spun” in Traditional Linen. Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 289.

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