Flanders Ahead, Wallonia Behind (But Catching Up): Reconstructing Communities Through Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy Making

Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society 37 (4):185-198 (2017)
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Abstract

Drawing on a documentary analysis of two socioeconomic policy programs, one Flemish (“Vlaanderen in Actie”), the other Walloon (“Marshall Plans”), and a discourse analysis of how these programs are received in one Flemish and one Francophone quality newspaper, this article illustrates how Flanders and Wallonia both seek to become top-performing knowledge-based economies (KBEs). The article discerns a number of discursive repertoires, such as “Catching up,” which policy actors draw on to legitimize or question the transformation of Flanders and Wallonia into KBEs. The “Catching up” repertoire places Flanders resolutely ahead of Wallonia in the global race toward knowledge, excellence, and growth, but suggests that Wallonia may, in due course, overtake Flanders as a top competitive region. Given the expectations and fears that “Catching up” evokes among Flemish and Walloon policy actors, the repertoire serves these actors as a flexible discursive resource to make sense of, and shape, their collective futures and their regional identities. The article’s findings underline the simultaneity of, and the interplay between, globalizing forces and particularizing tendencies, as Flanders and Wallonia develop with a global KBE in region-specific ways.

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