Understanding Cultural Geography as a Pseudo-Diffusion Process: The Case of the Veneto Region

In this paper, we study the cultural geography of the Veneto Region on the basis of a pseudo-diffusion approach to the analysis of the inherent semantic spatial data. We find somewhat surprising results, and, in particular, that Venice, indisputably the Region’s cultural hub in terms of concentration of activities and facilities, global visibility and attraction of resources, plays a marginal role in determining the momentum of cultural initiative at the regional level as of 2007 data. The areas with the greater momentum are relatively marginal ones but characterized by a strong presence of design-oriented companies that are actively engaging in culture-driven innovation in a context of gradually horizontally-integrated clusters. Our findings call for a revision of the traditional policy approaches that identify centralities in terms of concentration of activities and facilities based on past dynamics, and to design policies accordingly. We argue in favour of a more forward-looking, evidence-based approach.

Article by Guido Ferilli, Pier Luigi Sacco, Massimo Buscema, Giorgio Tavano Blessi
Published in Economies 2015, 3, 100-127; doi:10.3390/economies3020100

From the Conclusions (excerpt)
(…) In this paper, we have found a huge gap between the intuitions provided by a traditional analysis of concentration patterns of cultural activities/facilities, and those arising from a more sophisticated analysis that exploits the implicit spatial semantics that emerges when the cultural geography at the regional level is interpreted in terms of a pseudo-diffusion process. Not only does this alternative approach lead to a very different notion of “centrality”, but it also seems to cast new light on the deep relationship between cultural activity and innovation-based socio-spatial dynamics. On the other hand, it provides an interesting confirmation to the mounting intuition that, as in the case of Venice, exasperating the tourist orientation at the expense of the vitality of the cultural production field may seriously endanger the social sustainability of local cultural systems.
Our results leave, of course, many questions open for further research and analysis. A more detailed understanding of the meaning and implications of TWC positioning in the regional space and of the geometry of the gradient field of pseudo-diffusion processes are called for. Moreover, it is important to test this method in different geographical, analytical and even disciplinary contexts to evaluate its consistency and robustness.(…).

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