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In between social engineering and gentrification: urban restructuring, social movements, and the place politics of open space

Journal article
Authors Håkan Thörn
Published in Journal of Urban Affairs
Volume 34
Issue 2
Pages 153-168
ISSN 1467-9906
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Gothenburg Centre for Globalization and Development (GCGD)
Pages 153-168
Language en
Keywords urban social movements, urban restructuring, gentrification, social engineering, place politics
Subject categories Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified


The article examines the emergence of urban countercultures and social movements in Christiania, Copenhagen, and Haga, Gothenburg in the context of the Scandinavian welfare state, from the 1970s to the present. Specifically, it investigates the relations between urban governance, gentrification processes, and social movements in the urban restructuring of Scandinavian cities. While Christiania today remains a space for counterculture, the struggle to save Haga contributed to a gentrification of the district, as it became officially “re-evaluated” and upgraded. The article examines the similarities and differences in the urban movement trajectories in these two cases, highlighting their “place politics of open space.”

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