• Lykke Larsen
4. term, Sociology, Master (Master Programme)
This master thesis focuses on the strategic use of urban citizens’ involvement
in temporary use of urban spaces and on the related consequences for these
citizens. The theoretical foundation of urban planning has shifted focus from
master and long term planning to more weak planning and project organized
efforts. The new trends in urban planning are leading to widening stakeholder
involvement including citizen participation. With an offset in the case of two
urban gardens (Aalborghaver) in Aalborg, the thesis examines how the local
government uses the citizens in the temporary use of the urban spaces, and
how this affects those involved.
The empirical foundation for the thesis is a mixed method study, mainly qualitative.
Three local government representatives were qualitatively interviewed
along with nine occupants from the urban gardens. Theoretically, the master
thesis is based on critical theory, social constructivism and hermeneutic. This
offset, in combination with the findings from the empirical data, resulted in a
post Marxist understanding of the use of citizen involvement in urban planning.
The theoretical framework used for this thesis consists of theory pertaining
to the field of urban planning together with sociology, especially Ecological
Marxism and perspectives on creative classes.
The thesis shows both a complexity of involving citizens in urban planning
and a complexity of temporary urban spaces. Utilizing its right to shape the
city, Aalborg Kommune alleviates itself from responsibility for the areas and
imposes it onto the citizens. The transfer in responsibility has consequences
for the occupants, and leads to frustrations concerning practical issues in one
of the urban gardens and organizational issues in the other.
Both the occupant involvement and the temporary nature of the gardens have
been found to constitute a strategic tool for the use of the urban spaces. Since
the areas are temporary, it makes it easier for Aalborg Kommune to make other
dispositions of the asset, should a more permanent opportunity arise. Aalborg
Kommune is aware that, by keeping the status temporary, it can both gather
input for the future transformation opportunities and raise awareness for the
area at the same time.
There seems to be an alignment between the temporary nature of the gardens
and the life situation of the urban gardeners. Thus, to some occupants the
status is relaxing, and since the gardens are only temporal, the occupants can
use cheaper and more short term solutions. Related to the gardens’ temporal
nature are also more severe consequences. First, some occupants feel the
temporality is a limitation, due to their lack of incentive to invest time and rev
sources in the garden. Secondly, the power of Aalborg Kommune to terminate
the right to a garden with a very short notice gives some occupants motivation
to keep their garden to high standards in order to be well liked. In conclusion,
the use of urban citizens’ involvement in temporary use of urban spaces and
the temporary urban planning in itself can be said to be complex, and the way
of using and especially combine these two tools can have consequences for
the occupants involved. Thus, it can be argued that there is need for more
focus on thinking the fields of urban planning and sociology together.
Publication date6 Feb 2014
ID: 184057796