Conference Agenda

RS18_01: Urban Futures: Visions, imaginaries and narratives (1)
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Elisa Pieri, University of Manchester
Location: BS.3.17
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


Urban Planning Visions as Imaginaries of Sustainability and Welfare

Roger Hildingsson1, Håkan Johansson2, Jamil Khan3

1Lund University, Dept of Political Science, Sweden; 2Lund University, School of Social Work, Sweden; 3Lund University, Environmental and Energy System Studies, Sweden

Visions of a socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable city represent efforts to address the most challenging topics for European cities. Growing populations, increasing inequality and extraordinary social and demographic diversity push for new solutions on social inclusion and redistribution. At the same time, unsustainable patterns of consumption and resource use cause extensive environmental change, urging for ecologically sustainable solutions and practices at the urban level.

This paper analyses how cities seek to envision their futures as a place of good living providing both welfare and sustainability within planetary boundaries. We compare visions of urban sustainability and welfare in three Swedish cities (Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö). Based on document analyses of urban planning, we analyse how time, space, and expressions of the good life are envisioned and planned for, and how such urban visions address the ideological divide between developing a city that is sustainable and one that provides social welfare for all.

The paper seeks to contribute to current debates on the transformative and performative power of urban visions and imaginaries. Drawing on debates on ‘the power of imagination’ (Hajer), ‘real utopias’ (Olin Wright) and utopias as a method for imagining the reconstitution of society (Levitas), we approach urban visions as acts of political storytelling aimed at establishing shared imaginaries of urban sustainable welfare. While being formed by actors with particular interests and agendas in relation to ideological positions, we discuss how such visions mobilise ideas, people and resources to plan for and envision urban futures, and to experiment with ways to shape city developments and transform urban environments.

Tools Of Persuasion In Urban Redevelopment Videos

Helena Leino, Markus Laine, Pauliina Raento

University of Tampere, Finland

Many cities all over the world have recognized the increasing importance of different social media channels for branding purposes. New digital media outlets and global interactivity in communication offer unforeseen opportunities for this communication – which includes urban image making and city branding. The employment of still and moving imagery in the delivery of the message feels natural in our era of “visual paradigm” where photograph and film have taken over from written texts the role of primary educator” (Lutz & Collins 1993: 4).

As James Throgmorton (1993) has argued, planning is constitutive and persuasive storytelling about the future. According to Leonie Sandercock (2003), one needs to understand the work that stories do, and to recognize the moral ordering involved in the conscious and unconscious use of certain plots and character types. Yet little in this literature is said about the concrete mechanisms of this “persuasive storytelling” – about what visual elements support, or unfold, the story and how it is told. How is the viewers’ attention steered, how are desired impressions and images of a particular place created, and how place is contextualized with global processes deemed worthy of pursuing at a local level?

We challenge this relative silence with a sample of visionary (re)development videos about European cities, by exposing techniques employed in persuasive communication practice. We ask: what kind of residents, issues and goals the videos provide to the public? Which groups are included and which marginalized in the future visions of the city?

City Narratives as Part of an Inclusive or Exclusive Urban Public Sphere

Karen Klijnhout, Susanne Janssen

Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands, The

While cities are often studied as space and places, my research examines the urban public sphere, and the way narratives about the city create social and symbolic boundaries. I aim to map and qualify underlying assumptions about culture and cultural diversity in discourses about cities and city culture and asses how such conceptions and assumptions sustain or contest existing social boundaries.

To do this, I first analyzed party programs, debates, and (social) media coverage during the 2018 local elections in four Dutch cities (Rotterdam, The Hague, Dordrecht, Gouda), as well as cultural policy documents. This included looking for stories about the city and city culture. In all four cities, I found a commonly shared narrative of pride. The city narratives of the smaller cities- Dordrecht and Gouda- refer to their historical buildings and celebrate the jubilees of their long-standing city rights, and mention their waterways as important features for their identity and attractiveness. Their focus is on history and continuity, and is local. Alternatively, the large cities have a more modern city narrative that is globally focused. Rotterdam connects this story to the world harbor, and The Hague to the international court of justice. They also describe cultural diversity as an important feature of the city. City narratives thus appear to differ in their openness towards change and global influences, and thereby in their inclusion of new cultures in the city.

In my further research, these narratives about the cities will be compared to visions on the city shared by young people and urban artists within these cities.

Migration and Diversity in the Entrepreneurial City: Setting the scene for the new urban imaginaries.

Nuno Filipe Oliveira

CIES-IUL ISCTE Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal

Drawing from field work in Lisbon and Buenos Aires, the paper examines how processes of revitalization of the inner-city have been consistently linked to cultural diversity mobilization. Ethnographic and qualitative research was carried out in specific urban spaces where culture-led regeneration is underway. The selection of such spaces was premised on the idea of avoiding the usual suspects in urban studies such as the big capitals of the northern hemisphere. We argue that migration cultural traits are brought into such processes through cultural mediatory mechanisms that are specific to entrepreneurial citiy model. We integrate in our analysis a wide range of actors involved in urban governance, from municipal authorities, through immigrant organizations, to migrant entrepreneurs and gentrifiers, in order to provide a comprehensive interpretation of such mechanisms. Findings show that cities pursue similar strategies of coping with migrant-driven cultural diversity implying three main dimensions: aestheticization, place marketing and “ethnic showcasing”. We raise some conceptual and policy related questions about new regimes of visibility and forms of social organization of difference specific to the entrepreneurial city.