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The Inner City as Public Sphere: Urban Restructuring, Social Order and Socal Movement

This project studies and analyses the role of urban public spheres and social movements in the post-industrial transformation of Scandinavian inner cities. The project is intended to provide a contemporary historical contribution to current research on urban transformation through two case studies of mobilization and ensuing debates on the districts of Christiania in Copenhagen and Haga in Gothenburg. Their status as contested inner city districts makes them appropriate cases in order to study and analyse general patterns in the restructuring of Scandinavian inner cities since the 1970s.

As a point of departure we argue that studies of controversies are particularly suited for the analysis of the normative structures and tensions that are at work in processes of social reproduction and change. The aim of the project is to apply an historical-comparative perspective in order to distinguish and analyse the significance of urban public spheres and social movements during the post-industrial transformation of Scandinavian big cities. The overarching questions are as follows: Which actors have been prominent, and which norms and ideals have been presented, in public debates in connection with the post-industrial transformation of Scandinavian inner cities? What role have social movements played in the post-industrial transformation of inner cities with regard to the prevalence of urban public spheres? What significance did the economic and political institutions and processes have for the construction of urban public spheres?

Funded by: Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and Formas
Period: 2009-2012
Project leader: Håkan Thörn, Department of Sociology, University of Gothenburg.
Participant from the Dept.: Cathrin Wasshede, Department of Sociology.
Other participants: Tomas Nilson, Department of History, University of Gothenburg; Martin Peterson, Department of History, Bergen University.

Page Manager: Anders Östebo|Last update: 6/14/2012

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