chapter
13 Pages

Introduction

What is also significant is the form the 'regional question' takes today. Twenty years ago, when students embarked on research on this question, they did so either from a political science perspective which was concerned with 'national' or 'ethnic' minorities who, according to both liberal and Marxist theories of the state and society, should have disappeared from advanced capitalist societies (Smith, 1981; Gellner, 1964, 1983); or, as economists or geographers, they were concerned with the development of national regional policies and their effects on the economic and social life of regional populations (Vanhove and Klaassen, 1987; Molle, 1990). Only rarely were these two questions related to each other. Today, the regional question is still concerned with these issues but the perspectives and context have changed. From about 1985, social scientists began to look at regions from the point of view of accelerated European integration, the growth and implementation of structural action funds (including regional policy funds), and the mobilization of regions within a broader political game across Europe. In Europe, these processes have been given impetus by the Single European Act (1987) leading to the setting up of a Single Market in 1993. In

North America, the new context is provided by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed in 1989, and the ongoing crisis of the position of Quebec in the Canadian federation.