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Linking up the Alps

How networks of local political actors build the pan-Alpine region

Cristina Del Biaggio

The signing of the Convention on the protection of the Alps (Alpine Convention) by the Alpine States in 1991 heralded new practices and perspectives. This transnational project is intended to solve important challenges faced by the Alpine population. Convinced that the Alpine Convention should fulfil its potential, some non-governmental organizations and some active persons created networks of local political actors to connect local representatives, researchers, managers of protected areas and ecological associations. These were designed to realize a sustainable pan-Alpine region. This book endeavours to understand how and why local political actors, organized in pan-Alpine networks, chose to take mountain regions in general, and the Alps in particular, as the shared frame of reference for their involvement. It explores if and how a pan-Alpine identity detached from and/or combined with the more «traditional» national identities is developing among and enacted by local political actors engaged for the Alpine Convention. It also analyzes the socio-political significance of local political actors’ involvement in the newly constituted pan-Alpine networks.
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3. Methodology


3.   Methodology

This chapter begins with a presentation of the research design conceived for the study. I explain why I chose to use an interpretative method based on a single case embedded research design. The case under investigation, namely three pan-Alpine networks of local political actors, comprises three principal units of analysis: the Alliance in the Alps, Alparc and Alpine Pearls networks. In the second part of the chapter, I introduce the three methods used to collect primary data (questionnaires, interviews and first-hand observations) and the strategy adopted to analyse them. In the third part, I propose some reflections on my position in this research.

3.1    Research design

Robert Yin suggests four basic types of research designs for case studies (Yin, 2003: 40). In this research I apply the single-case embedded research design. Yin visualizes this type of design as follows:

Fig. 1: Research design, based on Yin, 2003.

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In the context of the Alpine regionalization process, the analysis will focus on a case study, i. e. networks of local political actors. The case study, highlighting how social configurations of actors and mechanisms of regional construction are taking place in the Alps, is composed of three main units of analysis (namely the Alliance in the Alps, Alparc and Alpine Pearls networks). The three chosen networks will be analysed as emblematic examples of a more generalized phenomenon: the constitution of a number of networks involving...

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