Citizen dialogue in planning and the delicate balance of formality and informality
Paper in proceedings, 2013
This paper looks into some of the difficulties involved in the meeting between the formal institu-tions and citizen initiatives, using case study narratives as a basis for the analyses. One central ques-tion regards whether urban development, planning and design practices need to loosen up some of its rigid frameworks and move towards a more emergent and adaptive approach. Although some of the cases give support for that, there are many strategic choices to make regarding on which levels and under which conditions informality can be enabled. The paper arrives at a critical discussion about current discourses of citizen dialogue in Swedish municipalities, and its potential of empow-ering socially excluded groups in society. The case studies, carried out in two stigmatized urban res-idential areas in Gothenburg, involve empirical data collection through participant observation and qualitative interviews. In both areas, the local city district councils work with citizen dialogues in connection to urban development projects, and in both areas there are local inhabitants starting up own initiatives. Although every process is unique, there are also general lessons to learn. The pro-ject's overall approach to research methodology is transdisciplinary, meaning that there is an en-deavour to transgress traditional disciplinary thinking and produce knowledge in collaboration be-tween research and practice.