The spatial politics of depoliticization: Visionary planning, bioeconomy, and forest capital

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

University of Oulu, Linnanmaa campus, LO124

Topic of the dissertation

The spatial politics of depoliticization: Visionary planning, bioeconomy, and forest capital

Doctoral candidate

Master of Science Ville Kellokumpu

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Science, Geography Research Unit

Subject of study



Professor Jarmo Kortelainen, University of Eastern Finland


Professor Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola, University of Oulu

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From depoliticization to the “revenge of the places that don’t matter”: Capitalism and regional politics in Finland

The spatial structure of the Finnish state is changing. Global urbanization divides regions into economic winners and losers, and urbanization in Finland has also followed this global trend. The winners of urbanization are able to manage the positive problem of continuous growth, while losers face the problems of structural change. The differentiation of the spatial structure into winners and losers also has political consequences. "Revenge of the places that don’t matter" describes the phenomenon where regional discontent fuels populist political movements.

One reason why the politicization of regional discontent has been successful can be found in the political ideology of urbanization. Urbanization is advanced as a depoliticized imaginary. In other words, urbanization has not been viewed as a spatially uneven process defined by conflicting interests, but as a political necessity, where urbanization is presented unambiguously as the national interest.

This dissertation examines the dynamics of depoliticization and politicization in the context of changes in the state's spatial structure. Depoliticization can be defined as a method of doing politics through which political agents aim to dissociate from the negative perceptions associated with politics and blur their own political agency. The dissertation emphasizes how in a capitalist society, the economy becomes a depoliticized sphere that can function as a means of neutralizing politics.

The dissertation examines how growth models and visions of the future have diverged between urban and rural areas. The city-regionalist growth model emphasizes urban growth that is based on the knowledge economy and attracting capital and investments in global competition. In contrast, bioeconomy has been hailed as the savior for declining regional centers and rural areas. Its aim is to transform the production models of industrial sectors vital to the regional economies towards carbon-neutral and environmentally sustainable ones. However, in the pressures of urbanization, a comprehensive vision of regional policy for the entire state space has yet to materialize.
Last updated: 23.1.2024