Social Life is part of the "Bright future: reinventing European industrial towns and challenging dominant post-industrial discourses" research programme. This is led by the Anton Melik Geographical Unit, founded by the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts.
The recent economic crisis has shown the problems of past developmental strategies which have focused on large cities and have emphasised service-oriented economies as the only possible future. But the reality in Europe is that the majority of people still work and live in small towns reliant on industrial production. In the Bright Future project we see this industrial past and present as something distinctly European and as a strength, since those towns already possess unique skills, knowledge, attitudes, heritage and more.
The research will investigate the dynamics of smaller European towns that are still dependant on manufacturing, with the aim of drawing out the implications for innovation and future practice, to support these places to thrive. We will use Social Life's social sustainability framework to understand our findings about our five case study towns, and as the starting point for a participatory innovation process.
This will add to our practical knowledge of social innovation in urban contexts; currently more is known about cities that depend on their service sectors than those that maintain a manufacturing basis.
The other reserach partners are the University of Eastern Finland, Department of Geographical and Historical Studies; the University of Bucharest, Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Research on Territorial Dynamics; the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research; and the Young Foundation.
The project is part of JPI Urban Europe's ENSUF programme. ENSUF is supported by the European Commission and funded under the Horizon 2020 ERA-NET Cofund scheme.