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Linda Stihl

Linda Stihl


Linda Stihl

Spinning forward and digging deeper : agency and changing institutions in old industrial regions


  • Linda Stihl

Summary, in English

This paper highlights changes in perceived room for agency and local institutions (formal and informal) in old Swedish mill regions. The paper draws on recent literature on change agency (Grillitsch & Sotarauta, 2020) and reproductive agency (Bækkelund, 2021; Jolly et al., 2020) as well as the role of institutions in local communities (Bole, 2021; Rodríguez-Pose, 2013) and builds on material from 40 semi-structured interviews. The in-depth analysis across a long time period asks: When and why does phases of change agency occur in old industrial regions? In what way does local institutions influence the development?

The paper follows two Swedish cases, Borås and Kiruna, who both suffered from structural crisis during the 1970s and 1980s and a following outmigration. Borås used to be the national center for textile production, a female dominated industry that attracted labor from the whole of Europe during the hey days to secure enough labor. Kiruna, dominated by ore extraction, were forced to reduce number of employees and upgrade production following the steel crisis. The analysis starts in the crisis years and follows the two municipalities until today. The two regions have developed in different ways, Borås have upgraded within the textile industry and relatedly diversified in trade and logistics. Kiruna have upgraded within the mining industry and unrelatedly diversified into space and tourism. But what can we learn from two so different industrial regions? The paper unpacks contextual and institutional settings to follow perceived room for local agency and transition of institutions over almost five decades and enhances our understanding of changes in agency in a long-term perspective.


  • Institutionen för kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi








  • Economic Geography


  • Agency
  • Regional Development
  • local culture
  • informal institutions
  • Change agency

Conference name

RSA Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) Conference 2022

Conference date

2022-09-14 - 2022-09-17

Conference place

Leipzig, Germany




  • Agents of Change in Old-industrial Regions in Europe