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Individual Paper: Urban visions as (contested) imaginaries on sustainability and welfare

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This paper aims to analyse how cities envision their future as a place of good living providing welfare within planetary boundaries. Recently cities have grown in importance and are often seen as sites for addressing new societal challenges and as sites for developing societal solutions. Many cities face the twin challenge of providing inhabitants with material and social welfare while striving to build a sound and sustainable urban environment. Scholarly debates on urbanization and urban governance stress how urban visions play an important part of city politics, urban planning and local governance. Visionary imaginaries are means to collectively entangle with and envision the future city and urban communities. In urban governance, such visions play a key role in imagining the future to be or that we desire, constituting urban identities. Urban visions are however political acts as they are produced by present actors, with particular interests and agendas in relation to ideological positions. As an act of political storytelling, urban visions thus hold both transformative and performative power (Hajer) in the sense of shaping imaginaries of future city developments and the efforts addressed to transform urban environments. Urban visions might furthermore motivate initiatives and activities among public and civil actors to experiment with new ways of organizing public concerns and to practice alternative ways of living, thus striving to provide ‘real utopias’ (Olin Wright) of sustainable welfare. This paper seeks to contribute to debates and research on urban utopias and visionaries by comparing how three Swedish cities (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö) develop urban visions on how to build a city that provides future inhabitants with social welfare and a sustainable urban environment to live in. Drawing on document studies, interviews and observations for these cases, we study how the three cities discursively construct and invest in the future of their cities and its inhabitants across a potential ideological divide between developing a city that is sustainable and provides social welfare for all.


Day: 2018-08-24
Start time: 11:00
Duration: 00:15
Room: ABF (Stora Salen)
Track: - Other - (fill submission note below)



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