Monday, 07 August 2023 09:30

RSPP Call for Papers | Special Issue: Geography of discontent and beyond: extreme voting, protestations, riots and violence, and their spatial content


Regional Science Policy & Practice (RSPP)

Call for Papers Special Issue: Geography of discontent and beyond: extreme voting, protestations, riots and violence, and their spatial content

Guest editors

André Torre (University Paris-Saclay) and Sébastien Bourdin (EM Normandie Business School)

Research on the geography of discontent has become increasingly important in recent years, focusing on populations dissatisfied with their day-to-day life, who express their discontent through extreme or dissident votes (Rodríguez-Pose, 2018; McCann, 2018). However, voting is not the only expression of discontent, which can manifest in various ways and can often be more direct or even brutal, especially through street protests.

Protest movements, such as the Yellow Vests in France (Bourdin & Torre, 2023) or anti-austerity protests in Greece (Artelaris & Tsirbas, 2018), have taken a significant place in the contemporary global political landscape. These movements, which arise at the local, national and international levels, reflect deep political discontent, often rooted in economic, social and spatial disparities (Brenner et al., 2010; Eva et al., 2022). The recent riots in France may also be related to this family of movements of protestation.

Research in political geography has shown that these movements are often linked to the perception of socio-spatial injustice (Soja, 2009). With this in mind, economic and social disparities at the local and regional levels are becoming focal points of tension (Rodríguez-Pose, 2018). These movements can be understood as responses to socio-economic and political exclusion, alongside spatial marginalization (Marcuse, 2009).

In addition to economic and social disparities, other parameters may explain the genesis of discontent. Decentralization, for example, has often strengthened some regions at the expense of others. This trend has often resulted in increased metropolisation, characterized by disproportionate investment in large urban centres, abandoning many peripheral territories (Torre & Bourdin, 2023). This process can exacerbate regional inequalities and contribute to a sense of abandonment among people in deprived areas, fueling discontent and protest (Bourdin & Tai, 2022). In addition, the quality of institutions - at national, regional and local levels - is another major factor in dissatisfaction. Weak or ineffective institutions can create resentment among the population, generating political tensions that can manifest themselves in the street (Rodríguez-Pose, 2020). Studies have shown that when citizens perceive their institutions to be corrupt, ineffective or indifferent to their needs, they are more likely to participate in protest movements (Rothstein & Teorell, 2008).

Thus, protest movements often serve as revelators of regional inequalities, highlighting gaps in local and regional public policies (Pike et al., 2017). They challenge traditional territorial governance frameworks and highlight the need for more inclusive approaches to regional and territorial development, addressing issues of conflict and local opposition (Torre, 2023).

In this context, we are seeking researches that explore protest movements, going beyond the now well-documented analyses of protest by voting for extreme parties. Topics of interest for this special issue include, but are not limited to:

  • • The analysis of issues related to extreme voting behaviors, considering their socio-spatial aspects and an exploration of perceived or actual factors of exclusion. How can we go further than the major examples recently analysed?
  • • Geographic analysis of protest movements: How do spatial characteristics, regional socio-economic factors, urban planning, transport and mobility influence the birth, development and impact of these movements?
  • • Regional inequalities and their role in political disenchantment and discontent: How do regional economic, social and environmental inequalities fuel these protest movements?
  • • The role of regional and local policies in the emergence of protest movements: How much responsibility do regional public policies play in the emergence of these movements?
  • • Forms and methods of protest: How different forms of protest (street demonstrations, occupation of specific places, traditional media such as television, press or radio, mobilization on social networks) influence the dynamics and impact of protest movements? What role do these different forms play in the construction of a collective identity and in the elaboration of spatial protest strategies?
  • • Regional consequences of protest movements: How do these movements affect local economies, regional development, social structures, the environment and public policies?
  • • Policy strategies to mitigate disenchantment and political discontent: What policies and practices have been effective in addressing these issues at the local and regional level? What lessons can be learned for the future?

Deadline for submission of full papers: 31st January 2024

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(Some waivers will be displayed for the best papers whose authors are not able to pay APCs)


Artelaris, P., & Tsirbas, Y. (2018). Anti-austerity voting in an era of economic crisis: Regional evidence from the 2015 referendum in Greece. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 36(4), 589-608.

Bourdin, S., & Tai, J. (2022). Abstentionist voting–between disengagement and protestation in neglected areas: A spatial analysis of the Paris metropolis. International Regional Science Review, 45(3), 263-292.

Bourdin, S., & Torre, A. (2023). Geography of contestation: A study on the Yellow Vest movement and the rise of populism in France. Journal of Regional Science, 63(1), 214-235.

Brenner, N., Peck, J., & Theodore, N. (2010). Variegated neoliberalization: geographies, modalities, pathways. Global Networks, 10(2), 182-222.

Eva, M., Cehan, A., Corodescu-Roșca, E., & Bourdin, S. (2022). Spatial patterns of regional inequalities: Empirical evidence from a large panel of countries. Applied Geography, 140, 102638.

McCann, P. (2018). The trade, geography and regional implications of Brexit. Papers in Regional Science, 97, 3-8.

Pike, A., Rodríguez-Pose, A., & Tomaney, J. (2017). Local and regional development. Routledge.

Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2018). The revenge of the places that don’t matter (and what to do about it). Cambridge journal of regions, economy and society, 11(1), 189-209.

Rodríguez‐Pose, A. (2020). Institutions and the fortunes of territories. Regional Science Policy & Practice, 12(3), 371-386.

Soja, E. (2009). The city and spatial justice. Justice spatiale/Spatial justice, 1(1), 1-5.

Torre, A. (2023). Contribution to the theory of territorial development: a territorial innovations approach. Regional Studies, 1-16.

Torre, A., & Bourdin, S. (2023). The French territorial reform of the regions: Objectives, risks and challenges for some forgotten territories. International Journal of Public Administration, 46(11), 761-772.

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