Peace piece: Dissonance and the stabilising of local innovations in urban design
Other conference contribution, 2020

This paper introduces the musicological notion of dissonance as a means to theorise the situatedness and stabilisation of innovations in processes of co-creation in urban planning.

Starting from the literature on valuation studies, the argument adopts Stark’s (2009) proposition of studying innovations as emerging from sites where evaluative dissonance is made productive. This concept, along with Farías’ (2015) related notions of ”epistemic dissonance” and “project mediators”, is used to explore the local adoption of “active frontages” in the redevelopment of an central neighbourhood in Gothenburg, Sweden. In the paper, dissonance is that which emerges as local actors with non-aligned normative and cognitive expectations co-create urban design in a particular geographical and cultural setting.

The paper has three aims. First, the argument seeks to transpose the notion of dissonance – which has previously been used to study intra-organisational settings – to the study of inter-organisational co-creation. Secondly, the paper will align STS-influenced valuation studies with the lineage of innovation studies (from Machiavelli to ANT) that focuses on stabilisation – the “Machiavellian moment” in innovation. Thirdly, the paper aims to take Stark’s musicological metaphor further, surveying musical history for examples of compositions designed to make states of dissonance comfortable.

Farías, I. (2015) “Epistemic dissonance: Reconfiguring valuation in architectural practice”, in Moments of Valuation: Exploring Sites of Dissonance, pp. 271-289.
Stark, D. (2009) The Sense of Dissonance.


Stefan Molnar

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Science, Technology and Society

Karl Palmås

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Science, Technology and Society

4S / EASST annual meeting
Prague, Czech Republic,

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Economic Geography


Human Geography

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