Demanding Certainty A Critical Examination of Swedish Spatial Planning for Safety

Detta är en avhandling från Blekinge Tekniska Högskola

Sammanfattning: This dissertation constitutes a critical examination of Swedish spatial planning for safety. Spatial planning for safety rests on a number of assumptions about the desired order of the world. These assumptions appear as given and unproblematic, making the formulation of alternatives appear unnecessary. This dissertation provides an account of how, and on what basis a spatial planning problem such as ‘fear and insecurity’ is formulated and acted upon. It is an account of how and what conceptions of knowledge operate to legitimise ideological representations of spatial planning problems. And furthermore, what these ideological representations of spatial planning problems substantially entail, so as to allow for a political spatial planning practice that formulates and deliberates alternatives. This is carried out by analysing assumptions of public life and knowledge within Swedish spatial planning for safety. This dissertation finds that Swedish spatial planning for safety constitutes ‘certainty’ as a hegemonic criterion for participating in public life, which operates to limit the articulation of alternative discourses in spatial planning for safety. The desired for safe public life is organised based on visual certainty, where the urban fabric should be configured in such ways as to allow for stereotypical visual identifications of one another. Such a public life reflects an individualised practice, where perceptions of fear should be governed by individuals themselves, by independently assessing situations and environments in terms of risks. This individualised conduct is coupled with the fostering of active subjects, which encompasses being engaged in the local residential areas as well as in one another. Such substantial content of ‘planning for safety’ brings about tensions in terms of its ideological legitimating basis, by moving from principles of ‘rights’, where the individual constitutes the first ethical planning subject, to unitary principles of ‘collective values’, in which the ‘community’ constitutes the first ethical planning subject. These presuppositions are further enabled through the ways in which knowledge is conceptualised in spatial planning. This dissertation argues that a hegemonic instrumental emphasis on knowledge in spatial planning prevails. Having such a hegemonic emphasis on knowledge has the implication that even though spatial planning adopts different assumptions, or moves between alternative assumptions of knowledge, the knowledge becomes meaningful only in its instrumental implementation. The instrumental emphasis on knowledge should be regarded in light of the rational and goal-oriented nature of project-based planning, which constitutes a logic that constrains the emphasis on knowledge in spatial planning. This dissertation argues further that if spatial planning should be considered a political practice that debates its goals and values, a politicisation of the emphasis on knowledge in spatial planning is imperative.