Spatial Inequalities: Town Centre Development and Urban Peripheries

Julia Fredriksson


In light of the increased interest in city centre development in Nordic planning, this paper examines city centre development from a perspective on space that takes power relations into account. I aim to analyse how the city centre is discursively constructed in contemporary Swedish urban planning and design, and to enhance the understanding of what this means in respect to how spatial power relations in cities are created and consolidated, focusing on how the city centres role and identity can be understood in relation to the role and meaning of the urban periphery. My study is based on a Swedish example, and on a relational perspective on space (Massey), postcolonial theory, the concept of constitutive outside (Mouffe), and the concept of bio-politics (Foucault).

The study demonstrates that the form of town centre development presented here can be regarded as a planning strategy that 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 post- industrial values and depicted as a generic place which can represent universal ideals, while the periphery is constructed as an exception which is located as a societal and spatial outside.

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