Object structure

Editorial: The geography and governance of infrastructure provision


Europa XXI 41 (2021)


Schorn, Martina : Autor Affiliation ORCID ; Humer, Alois : Autor Affiliation ORCID



Place of publishing:


Date issued/created:



29 cm

Subject and Keywords:

governance ; infrastructure provision ; regional disparities ; services of general interest


Infrastructure matters for regional development as well as for the individual wellbeing of people. This not only became painstakingly obvious since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. Thus, the phases of ‘lock-down’ during the pandemic became an eye opener for the condition of infrastructural fundaments of our cities and regions. Debates about systemic infrastructure for maintaining the functioning of our societies and economies – in scientific terms ‘Services of General Interest’ or the ‘Foundational Economy’ – received wide societal and political attention since the outbreak of the pandemic. Yet, already before the outbreak of this most severe global health crisis, discourses in applied social sciences have experienced an ‘infrastructural turn’, putting technical, social and green infrastructures into the centre of attention of social research, theory building and dissemination. This has led to different understandings of ‘infrastructure’ coexisting in academic and professional debates today. This introductory paper to the issue on ‘The Geography and Governance of Infrastructure Provision’ aims at giving an overview of current debates about infrastructure provision in Regional Science and Planning while introducing the six papers included in this theme issue of Europa XXI.


Adam Hernández, A., & Schneider, C. (2021). Experimenting for long-term transformation. Key insights into 20 years of German pilot schemes for innovative rural public service and infrastructure provision. Europa XXI, 41. https://doi.org/10.7163/Eu21.2021.41.5 DOI
Addie, J.-P. D., Glass, M. R., & Nelles, J. (2020). Regionalizing the infrastructure turn: A research agenda Regional Studies, Regional Science, 7(1), 10-26. https://doi.org/10.1080/21681376.2019.1701543 DOI
Ahlqvist, T., & Moisio, S. (2014). Neoliberalisation in a Nordic State: From Cartel Polity towards a Corporate Polity in Finland. New Political Economy, 19(1), 21-55. https://doi.org/10.1080/13563467.2013.768608 DOI
Bjørnsen, H. M., Foss, O., & Johansen, S. (2015). The concept and definition of SGI. In H., Fassmann, D., Rauhut, E. M., da Costa & A., Humer (Eds.). Services of General Interest and Territorial Cohesion (pp.49-72). Vienna: V&R Unipress. https://doi.org/10.14220/9783737004718.49 DOI
Carse, A. (2017). Keyword: Infrastructure - How a Humble French Engineering Term Shaped The Modern World. In P., Harvey, C., Jensen & A., Morita (Eds.). Infrastructures and Social Complexity: A Routledge Companion (pp. 27-39). London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315622880 DOI
Coenen, L., & Morgan, K. (2020). Evolving geographies of innovation: Existing paradigms, critiques and possible alternatives. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift - Norwegian Journal of Geography, 74(1), 13-24. https://doi.org/10.1080/00291951.2019.1692065 DOI
Colomb, C., & Santinha, G. (2014). European Union Competition Policy and the European Territorial Cohesion Agenda: An Impossible Reconciliation? State Aid Rules and Public Service Liberalization through the European Spatial Planning Lens. European Planning Studies, 22(3), 459-480. https://doi.org/10.1080/09654313.2012.744384 DOI
Cowie, P., Townsend, L., & Salemink, K. (2020). Smart rural futures: Will rural areas be left behind in the 4th industrial revolution? Journal of Rural Studies, 79, 169-176. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2020.08.042 DOI
da Costa, E. M., Palma, P., & da Costa, N. M. (2015). Regional Disparities of SGI provision. In H., Fassmann, D., Rauhut, E. M., da Costa & A., Humer (Eds.). Services of General Interest and Territorial Cohesion (pp. 91-122). Vienna: V&R Unipress. https://doi.org/10.14220/9783737004718.91 DOI
Engelen, E., Froud, J., Johal, S., Salento, A., & Williams, K. (2017). The grounded city: From competitivity to the foundational economy. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 10(3), 407-423. https://doi.org/10.1093/cjres/rsx016 DOI
ESPON (2020): Geography of COVID-19 outbreak and first policy answers in European regions and cities. Policy Brief, December 2020. Retrieved from https://www.espon.eu/sites/default/files/attachments/GEOCOV%20final%20report.pdf
Fassmann, H., Rauhut, D., da Costa, E. M., & Humer, A. (2015). Introduction: Contextual, legal and policy perspectives on Services of General Interest. In H., Fassmann, D., Rauhut, E. M., da Costa & A., Humer (Eds.). Services of General Interest and Territorial Cohesion (pp. 11-24). Vienna: V&R Unipress. https://doi.org/10.14220/9783737004718.11 DOI
Fassmann, H., Rauhut, D., da Costa, E. M., & Humer, A. (Eds.). (2015). Services of general interest and territorial cohesion: European perspectives and national insights. Vienna: V&R Unipress. https://doi.org/10.14220/9783737004718 DOI
Flyvbjerg, B. (2009). Survival of the unfittest: Why the worst infrastructure gets built-and what we can do about it. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 25(3), 344-367. DOI
Franz, Y., & Humer, A. (2021). EU Cohesion Policy: Towards grounded cities and regions. In D., Rauhut, F., Sielker & A., Humer (Eds.). EU Cohesion Policy and Spatial Governance: Territorial, Social and Economic Challenges (pp. 216-229). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781839103582.00028 DOI
Furlong, K. (2020). Geographies of infrastructure 1: Economies. Progress in Human Geography, 44(3), 572-582. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309132519850913 DOI
Glass, M. R., Addie, J.-P. D., & Nelles, J. (2019). Regional infrastructures, infrastructural regionalism. Regional Studies, 53(12), 1651-1656. https://doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2019.1667968 DOI
Graham, S., & Thrift, N. (2007). Out of Order: Understanding Repair and Maintenance. Theory, Culture & Society, 24(3), 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276407075954 DOI
Grimes, S. (2003). The digital economy challenge facing peripheral rural areas. Progress in Human Geography, 27(2), 174-193. https://doi.org/10.1191/0309132503ph421oa DOI
Gruber, E., Fassmann, H., & Humer, A. (2015). Demographic change changing SGI demands: The example of Austria. In H., Fassmann, D., Rauhut, E. M., da Costa & A., Humer (Eds.). Services of General Interest and Territorial Cohesion (pp. 149-166). Vienna: V&R Unipress. https://doi.org/10.14220/9783737004718.149 DOI
Gruber, E., Rauhut, D., & Humer, A. (2019). Territorial cohesion under pressure? Welfare policy and planning responses in Austrian and Swedish Peripheries. Papers in Regional Science, 98(1), 115-132. https://doi.org/10.1111/pirs.12344 DOI
Humer, A. (2014). Researching Social Services of General Interest: an analytical framework derived from underlying policy systems. Journal of European Spatial Research and Policy, 21(1), 65-82. https://doi.org/10.2478/esrp-2014-0006 DOI
Humer, A., & Granqvist, K. (2020). The gradual city-ness and town-ness of public service locations: towards spatially sensitive sector policies. Geoforum, 113, 81-91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2020.05.008 DOI
Humer, A., & Palma, P. (2013). The provision of Services of General Interest in Europe: regional indices and types explained by socio-economic and territorial conditions. Europa XXI, 23, 85-104. https://doi.org/10.7163/Eu21.2013.23.5 DOI
Humer, A., Rauhut, D., & Fassmann, H. (2015). Drivers of the Provision of SGI. In H., Fassmann, D., Rauhut, E. M., da Costa & A., Humer (Eds.). Services of General Interest and Territorial Cohesion (pp. 73-90). Vienna: V&R Unipress. https://doi-org.uaccess.univie.ac.at/10.14220/9783737004718.73
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Lacher, E. (2021). Electricity Provision as a European Service of General Economic Interest - a conceptual debate. Europa XXI, 41. https://doi.org/10.7163/Eu21.2021.41.1 DOI
Larkin, B. (2013). The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure. Annual Review of Anthropology, 42(1), 327-343. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-092412-155522 DOI
Latham, A., & Layton, J. (2019). Social infrastructure and the public life of cities: Studying urban sociality and public spaces. Geography Compass, 13(7), e12444. https://doi.org/10.1111/gec3.12444 DOI
Ludlow, D., & Rauhut, D. (2013). Services of General Interest: Policy challenges and policy options. Europa XXI, 23, 69-83. https://doi.org/10.7163/Eu21.2013.23.4 DOI
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Meier, S. (2021). Homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Strategies and action plans of the Berlin Senate. Europa XXI, 41. https://doi.org/10.7163/Eu21.2021.41.7 DOI
Milstein, A. (2015). The Legal Aspects of SGI. In H., Fassmann, D., Rauhut, E. M., da Costa & A., Humer (Eds.). Services of General Interest and Territorial Cohesion (pp. 27-48). Vienna: V&R Unipress. https://doi.org/10.14220/9783737004718.27 DOI
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Sielker, F., & Kaufmann, E. (2020). The influence of the Belt and Road Initiative in Europe. Regional Studies, Regional Science, 7(1), 288-291. https://doi.org/10.1080/21681376.2020.1790411 DOI
Stroissnig, U. (2021). Digitization in Austrian small-town regions: opportunities and risks for spatial planning and development. Europa XXI, 41. https://doi.prg/10.7163/Eu21.2021.41.3 DOI
Świątek, D., Komornicki, T., & Siłka, P. (2013). Services of General Interest: Empirical evidence from case studies of SeGI project. Europa XXI, 23, 105-129. https://doi.org/10.7163/Eu21.2013.23.6 DOI
Tent, N., Brad, A., Klöden, J., Adam Hernández, A., Bannert, J., & Gebauer, A. (2021). A review of the challenges and strategies of delivering services of general interest in European rural areas. Europa XXI, 41. https://doi.org/10.7163/Eu21.2021.41.4 DOI
Wiśniewski, R., Stępniak, M., & Szejgiec-Kolenda, B. (2021). Accessibility of public services in the age of ageing and shrinking population: Are regions following trends. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 103(1), 55-74. https://doi.org/10.1080/04353684.2021.1903334 DOI


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doi:10.7163/Eu21.2021.41.6 ; 1429-7132 ; 10.7163/Eu21.2021.41.6


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Creative Commons Attribution BY 4.0 license

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Copyright-protected material. [CC BY 4.0] May be used within the scope specified in Creative Commons Attribution BY 4.0 license, full text available at: ; -

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Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences

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Central Library of Geography and Environmental Protection. Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization PAS

Projects co-financed by:

European Union. European Regional Development Fund ; Programme Innovative Economy, 2010-2014, Priority Axis 2. R&D infrastructure





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