Konstruktioner av en stadskärna: Den postindustriella stadens rumsliga maktrelationer
Doctoral thesis, 2014

This thesis highlights the standpoints of Swedish planning practice towards city centres and emphasises a critical power perspective in respect of the town centre development. The aim is to analyse critically how city centres are discursively constructed in contemporary Swedish urban planning and design and to enhance the understanding of what this means in respect of how spatial power relations in cities are created and consolidated. Given the increase in interest in urban cores and town centres, in both Swedish and European planning practice and discussions on cities, the intention, therefore, is to provide planning practice and research with a critical elucidation of contemporary Swedish town centre development and to supplement current research into town centre development, which is dominated by research based on economic perspectives and studies of best practice. A further intention is to present examples of how the production of urban spaces can be studied on the basis of power perspectives in the field of urban planning and design. The theoretical and methodological framework of this thesis is based on a discourse theory approach which is combined with a relational perspective on space. This perspective emphasises the relationship between urban space and power and the production of urban space as a political process where the meaning of space is historically and contextually dependent and constantly constructed and reconstructed through concrete action. Discourse theory also offers a number of concepts and logics that have been used in the analysis of the empirical material. The thesis is based on an empirical study of the transformation of Jönköping city centre, of which the analysis has involved qualitative processing of texts, images and maps relating to the transformation of Jönköping’s central areas as a municipal planning project. The analysis can be likened to a deconstructive reading, the discourse being made visible by breaking up the chain of arguments and inserting them into new contexts. To enhance the understanding of what this means to how spatial power relations in cities are created and consolidated, the empirical analysis is then discussed on the basis of alternative logics which highlight the systems of meaning that do not fit into the given discourse and which emphasise how power operates in the production of space in the planning and design of city centres. The thesis demonstrates that the form of town centre development studied here can be regarded as a planning strategy which brings about spatial inequality by creating and consolidating differences and hierarchies between centres and peripheries. This occurs when the city centre is constructed as a bearer of future opportunities of the city in the post-industrial era and as a generic place which can represent universal ideals, while the periphery is constructed as an exception which is located at a societal and spatial “outside”. At the same time, the power dimension in the shaping of the urban space is rendered invisible by neutralising political choices so that selected planning strategies appear to be obvious and impossible to question. In contrast to this post-political tendency, the thesis emphasises the need to view the political in the shaping of urban space, where the construction of such space not only reflects social norms and power relations, but also plays an active part in the shaping of society.



city transformation

concepts of space






discourse theory

urban planning and design

town centre development







city centre

urban construction

Opponent: Per-Markku Ristilammi


Julia Fredriksson

Chalmers, Architecture

Denna avhandling lyfter fram ett kritiskt maktperspektiv på den nutida svenska planeringspraktikens förhållningssätt till stadskärnan. Detta görs mot bakgrund av det ökade intresse som har riktats mot stadskärnan, både inom planeringspraktiken, där stadskärneutveckling har blivit ett allt viktigare inslag, och inom en mer allmän diskussion om staden, där stadskärnan på många sätt kommit att framställas som stadens ideal. Avhandlingen undersöker hur planeringspraktikens förhållningssätt till stadskärnan kan förstås och vad det innebär för hur gränser, skillnader och hierarkier i staden upprättas och upprätthålls. Detta görs genom en studie av omvandlingen av Jönköpings stadskärna, där avhandlingen undersöker hur stadskärnans mening och roll i staden skapas och befästs. Denna studie analyseras sedan med utgångspunkt i teoretiska perspektiv som belyser relationen mellan stadens rum och makt. Resultaten pekar på att den form av stadskärneutveckling som studerats kan betraktas som en planeringsstrategi som skapar och befäster skillnader och hierarkier i staden. Samtidigt osynliggörs maktdimensionen i formandet av stadens rum genom att valda planeringsstrategier framstår som självklara, politiskt neutrala och omöjliga att ifrågasätta. I kontrast till denna tendens lyfter avhandlingen fram behovet av att se att formandet av stadens rum både speglar samhälleliga normer och maktrelationer och spelar en aktiv roll i hur maktrelationer och hierarkier i staden skapas och befästs.

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Civil Engineering

Other Social Sciences



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie


Opponent: Per-Markku Ristilammi

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