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Making Plans - Telling Stories: Planning in Karlskrona/Sweden 1980 - 2010
Blekinge Institute of Technology, School of Planning and Media Design.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to understand how a repertoire of municipal planning narratives evolved and how these were used as a means to explain, legitimise and produce change in a city that went through a process of urban transformation. The focus is set on the role of narratives in municipal plans as a mental preparation for change. In order to reach this aim, a framework for narrative analysis is developed that shall facilitate a critical reading of such municipal planning documents as comprehensive plans. This shall help to understand among other things how place and community are constructed. This framework is used to interpret four documents of the municipality of Karlskrona, one introductory guide for new inhabitants from 1980, and three consecutive comprehensive plans, adopted in 1991, 2002 and 2010. In short, the narrative analysis consists of four different ways of reading each respective document. First, more or less coherent narratives are identified in the texts. Second, they are analysed with respect to their literary and rhetoric form, in a way that is inspired by historian and literary theorist Hayden White. A third reading places the documents’ narratives into their historical context. Finally, they are classified as certain narratives of place identity on the basis of a typology developed by sociologist Manuel Castells. He states that identities can be constructed with help of narratives that legitimise the existing societal structures, that stand in opposition to these structures, or that create a new identity out of available resources. Based on these readings, I find that the four documents use very different literary and rhetorical forms and that they construct the place’s identity in ways clearly distinct from each other. They express various moral and political perspectives and convey clearly distinct social norms regarding the role of inhabitants and the municipality. Over the decades, there has been a clear shift of expressed values from those that support a leading role of the (local) state in fostering local development to those that highlight the importance of market actors and market forces. A similar change has occurred from the pronunciation of state responsibility for the inhabitant’s well-being to a greater focus on individual responsibility. This confirms the notion that municipal planning is increasingly influenced by ideas of neoliberal development. It could also be observed that storytelling and a purposeful narrative construction of place identity have become more prominent as instruments of planning. Planning narratives were clearly used to explain and legitimise shifts or persistence in municipal policymaking. Due to this it can be concluded that in the eyes of local policy makers, the municipality seems to have gone through a complete process of urban transformation from being in a state of decline to one of stabilised growth.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Institute of Technology , 2013. , 252 p. p.
Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 7
Keyword [en]
Urban planning, spatial planning, comprehensive plans, narratives, narrative analysis, Karlskrona, urban transformation, neoliberal development
National Category
Civil Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-00554Local ID: 978-91-7295-253-9OAI: diva2:834412
Available from: 2013-11-08 Created: 2013-03-12 Last updated: 2015-06-30Bibliographically approved

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