Hållbar utveckling, samhällsstruktur och kommunal identitet : En jämförelse mellan Västervik och Varberg

Sammanfattning: Many of Sweden’s municipal districts show a population decline as well as an uneven population distribution. This pattern is neither desirable nor socially sustainable. Sustainable development is a well-known term often discussed from an ecological perspective. At the same time it is established that social and ecological sustainability are closely linked in several ways. In this dissertation social sustainability is studied. The term includes demographic and socio-economic factors, tradition and culture, technical structure, as well as power. Socially sustainable development, in this context, refers to the ability of a municipality to achieve and maintain a desirable developmental pattern. It also includes the ability of a municipality to handle crises, such as dramatic economic fluctuations and other societal changes. The overall aim of this study is to identify the underlying factors that influence the socially sustainable development in municipalities. All through this study, the municipalities of Västervik and Varberg are used as empirical examples. The study is formulated around three main questions. The first question concerns the importance of a municipality’s previous development patterns – for the current situation as well as for any possible future developments. The second question deals with the local identity and highlights factors that attract or hamper development in the local area. The third and final question refers to how local civil servants and citizens perceive their own community’s potential for development, as well as which developmental strategies they perceive in the current municipal activities. To answer these three questions, Västervik and Varberg have been studied through the use of historical documents and statistical material, and through interviews with both municipal local civil servants and residents. Theories of various aspects of local and regional development such as demographic patterns, society structures, local identity, and social capital are used. This study has identify several types of factors to pay attention to, as municipalities try to bring about and maintain a socially sustainable development. With insight into these factors the municipalities have a better basis for working out a procedural plan of action. Still, to bring about fruitful change it is crucial that the actors involved clearly define and reflect on their goals of a “sustainable development.”

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