Empowering People and Enterprises with Strong Cultural and Territorial Identity: A Case Study of Setomaa, Estonia

  • Garri Raagmaa
  • Jaan Masso
  • Merli Reidolf
  • Mihkel Servinski


As put by Dahrendorf (1959): to be successful means to be liked, and to be liked means, in many ways, to be alike. This chapter describes how to use cultural identity as a tool of economic development through the empowerment of local enterprises and people “as reported by Friedmann (Empowerment: The Politics of alternative development. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992)”. Cultural particularities might once have been considered a disadvantage in the modernist standardized world; but cultural assets are now increasingly being viewed as quite the contrary –a source for new regional economies, boosted by the current media-driven world to present difference and alternatives. This case study of Setomaa shows that cultural uniqueness can now be envisioned as a ‘regional advantage’. This innovative approach means that a location ‘on the geographic periphery’ is no more a sign of hopelessness but – in the case of some traditional well preserved amenities – instead is a resource for local enterprises. This is also a challenge to the conventional approach which states that population growth is a lead indicator for regional prosperity: Setomaa is expected to contract in terms of population in the future, however, continued economic development is still possible for the region, due to the focus on leveraging its ‘wealth’ of cultural identity.


Creative Class Regional Economic Growth Rural Municipality Governmental Programme Economic Development Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter was co-funded by the Target Funding Project No. SF0180052s07 “Factors influencing spatial mobility of population and the impact on the regional development” of the Ministry of Education and Science of Estonia. Also, empirical research was financed by Setomaa development programme and co-financed by the Union of Setomaa Municipalities. Authors would like to thank all interviewed persons for their time, municipal authorities and particularly Mr. Aare Hõrn and Mr. Margus Timmo, key persons of Setomaa Cultural and Development Programmes, for their assistance and very positive attitude.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Garri Raagmaa
    • 1
  • Jaan Masso
    • 1
  • Merli Reidolf
    • 2
  • Mihkel Servinski
    • 3
  1. 1.University of TartuTartuEstonia
  2. 2.Tallinn University of TechnologyTallinnEstonia
  3. 3.Statistics EstoniaTallinnEstonia

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