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Functions of Sustainability: Exploring what urban sustainability discourse "does" in the Gothenburg Metropolitan Area
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Urban and Regional Studies. (Space, Politics, Ecologies)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1581-4731
Göteborgs universitet.
Länsstyrelsen, Västra Götaland.
2017 (English)In: Local Environment: the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, ISSN 1354-9839, E-ISSN 1469-6711, Vol. 22, p. 66-85Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Studies on urban sustainability policy often analyse what it is, could or should be in terms of contents, objectives and rationale. Often neglected, however, is what sustainability discourse actually "does". For this article, we explored the function of sustainability discourse in a collaborative metropolitan governance process of 1998-2014 that resulted in an infrastructural strategy aiming for "sustainable growth" in the Gothenburg Metropolitan Area (GMA). We asked why sustainability had become a hegemonic concept in urban politics despite the paradoxical decoupling of objectives, outputs and outcomes from environmental protection and social equity in policy achievement. We argue that sustainability works as a vehicular idea that brings significant value to fragile governance arenas by functioning as a linguistic political mechanism with no essence other than the capability to attract positive affections for any coalition of actors with the power to mobilise others. In the GMA, sustainability served as a cohesive and mobilising discourse empowering a coalition of technoeconomic experts to "get things done" and make an unruly city region governable enough to develop infrastructure perceived as crucial for the advancement of economic-growth projects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2017. Vol. 22, p. 66-85
Keyword [en]
Sustainable cities, city region, metropolitan governance, discourse coalitions, Gothenburg
National Category
Public Administration Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-209018DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2017.1320538ISI: 000418479500006Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85018245932OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-209018DiVA: diva2:1109699
Funder
Mistra Urban FuturesMistra Urban Futures
Note

QC 20170706

Available from: 2017-06-14 Created: 2017-06-14 Last updated: 2018-01-08Bibliographically approved

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