Governance Capacity


Cultural Identities and The Role of Tourism

Local cultural identity is a major factor for governance capacity, since inhabitants, when sharing common values and visions, can more easily agree on projects and actions. Therefore, a strong cultural identity is commonly regarded as a key factor for social cohesion and as a cure-all against isolation, loneliness and anonymity of modern life. Such a strong identity is frequently attributed to Alpine regions and in particular to tourist regions where the marketing of folklore and local handicrafts demonstrates a measure of solidarity with one’s roots.

However CIPRA warns about nostalgic concepts such as these and the sell-out of traditions through tourism, which could ultimately lead to a folkloristic pseudo-identity.

For being an effective resource for collective action, local identity should not be the "property" of a minority (i.e. old local families), should be open to incomers and meaningful by itself even when being commodified for tourists.

There are positive examples of promoting home-grown traditions and culture which contribute towards social exchange and stimulate people to think about joint projects. It is no surprise for instance that the Rigodonaïres cultural festival in the French Alpes Sud-Isère is one of CIPRA's showcase projects.

It appears that local identity can be especially useful for governance capacity when:
  1. it is not used as a tool for social exclusion
  2. when it is associated with economic development
  3. when it helps to define a common interest for actual public policies
Learn more on "Tourism in the Alps" in the respective tutorial.
Further Readings & Links

This article focuses on concepts, reasons and the background of social exclusion and social inclusion in peripheral rural areas.

What do regional politics have to do with gender balance? Find out more about this in this article.


Rigodonaïres Festival, Sud Isère (France)

"Discovering our roots means understanding the present in order to shape the future." Such is the guiding principle of the Rigodonaïres Festival, which has been held every summer since 1998 by six communities in the French Alpes Sud-Isère. Rigodons are peasant dances dating back to the Baroque period which originate from the Dauphiné.

Traditional Culture delights Both Locals and Visitors

The aim of the festival is to stage a cultural journey through the mountain communities, each of which organises village festivities lasting one week, with traditional processions, medieval ballads, games and dances. The organisers’ aim is to foster cultural identity and revive waning peasant traditions. The fact that the cultural festival also promotes green tourism is a positive side-effect. This itinerant festival also serves to boost and develop social resources at each venue where the cohesion of the local communities is very important and each year goes from strength to strength.

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The authors of this article explain how AOC can foster local economy (mostly through agriculture and tourism) and local identity.

SCHNELL et al. (2002)
This paper deals with the negligence of socio-cultural aspects in the scientific discussion about sustainable tourism.