Just Environments. Politicising Sustainable Urban Development.

2009-01-20

European cities are becoming increasingly multicultural and diverse in terms of lifestyles and socioeconomic conditions. However, in planning for sustainable urban development, implications of this increased diversity and possibly conflicting perspectives are seldom considered. This thesis explores dimensions of justice and politics in sustainable urban development by studying inclusionary/exclusionary effects of discursive power of official strategies for eco-friendly living and everyday lifestyles. It includes case studies from districts of Stockholm and Sheffield.
It is argued that the strategies for urban sustainability are underpinned by Swedish/British middle-class norms, entailing processes of (self-)disciplining and normalisation of the Other into well-behaving citizens. An appreciation of the multiple and others’ ways of saving natural resources would make the sustainability strategies more attuned to social and cultural diversity as well as more environmentally progressive. Finally, the importance of asserting the political in sustainability strategies is stressed, highlighting the organisation of society and possible alternative socioenvironmental futures.

Karin Bradley is a researcher at the Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Planning and Environment. She is also member of the board of Cogito.

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