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Childhood in a neoliberal utopia. Planning rhetoric and parental conceptions in contemporary Stockholm
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9291-5168
2015 (English)In: Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, ISSN 0435-3684, E-ISSN 1468-0467, Vol. 97, no 3, 233-247 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article addresses how neoliberalism as a utopian ideal of the urban affects the practices of planners and parents, drawing on Stockholm, Sweden, as an example and foregrounding how these adult conceptions of the city are manifested, both socially and physically, and shape children's geographies. Through an analysis of planning documents and interviews with planners and parents, this study shows how Stockholm's planning is clearly conditioned by neoliberal beliefs, but rather than being linked with political sympathies, neoliberalism is expressed as a contemporary urbanism. This specific urbanism is not compatible with children's independent mobility and easy access to nature and play spaces, but demands, as expressed by planners and parents, certain "sacrifices" in order to be achieved. The study shows that age is an organizing norm in terms of spatial justice in the city and that ideological beliefs about the urban development affect how this (in) justice is organized. The planning documents reflect utopian neoliberal ideas about a specific urban identity, and when private actors are given more influence over what is being built and which spaces are developed, there is a deliberate transition from welfare-planning values and the belief that children and adults have equal rights to urban neighbourhoods. This is expressed as a necessary transformation to a more urban and globally competitive city but given the extent to which welfare values are taken for granted in Sweden it is unlikely that the effect this transition will have on social and spatial justice in the city is recognized.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 97, no 3, 233-247 p.
National Category
Social Sciences Human Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-247060DOI: 10.1111/geob.12078ISI: 000372114400004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-247060DiVA: diva2:794695
Swedish Research Council Formas
Available from: 2015-03-12 Created: 2015-03-12 Last updated: 2016-04-14Bibliographically approved

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