Troels Schultz Larsen on Denmark
- Hans Skifter Andersen Urban sores: On the interaction between segregation, urban decay and deprived neighbourhoods. Ashgate Publishing, London. 2003.
‘Urban Sores’ is his only English book but more or less summarizes his work and the mainstream position in Denmark. Further Urban Sores contains a lot of specific information and relevant empirical material on the Danish case. One word of caution is that it does not include the major transformations since the liberal/conservative government took over in 2001 and the profound effects of these transformations.
Short English introduction:
Most European countries have experienced special problems that have emerged in certain more or less well-defined parts of cities called de-prived or depressed urban neighbourhoods. These problems were initially found in the oldest urban areas with the lowest quality housing. Since the beginning of the 1980s, however, in Europe they have also emerged in newer social housing estates outside city centres. These neighbourhoods display visible physical and social problems that can disfigure the perhaps otherwise attractive urban landscape. They could in severe cases even be termed sores on the face of the city. They are often perceived by the public as places that are not inhabited or frequented by decent people – they are seen as ‘places of exclusion’.
The purpose of this book is to contribute to a deeper understanding of why such neighbourhoods come to exist and the impacts they have on cities. Urban decay is a result of the interaction between social, economic and physical changes in cities, but one of my main views is that deprived neighbourhoods also constitute a very important element of and contribution to this interaction. These areas are not just a simple result of social inequality and segregational forces, as they also create new segregation and inequality. In these neighbourhoods, strong self-perpetuating processes have been started involving complicated mechanisms that draw the areas into a downward spiral from which they rarely recover unaided. Such forces also impact the rest of the city. The deprived areas act as magnetic poles that attract poverty and social problems, and repel people and economic resources in a way that influences other parts of the city. They are the visible signs that cities are subject to special socio-spatial forces that create social and physical inequality, unstable conditions and sometimes destruction – most clearly observed in slums in large American cities.
For this study, I have drawn on research from three main but different fields:
1. Research on segregation and its causes, carried out mainly by geographers and sociologists
2. Research, mostly economic, on causes and mechanisms of urban decay, and studies of public policies against it
3. Studies of deprived neighbourhoods and efforts to help them.
These three lines of research have followed their own separate courses and have rarely been combined. Studies of segregation have considered mainly spatial separation of different groups exclusively as a conse-quence of social inequality and cultural and racial differentiation, while characteristics of and changes in the urban structure have been less im-portant. In contrast, economists, mainly Americans, have understood ur-ban decay as a result of different households demanding different kinds of dwellings and surroundings that are located in different parts of cities. Finally, research on deprived neighbourhoods in Europe has either taken a very narrow look at the specific problems and circumstances in the studied areas or has seen this phenomena as a general manifestation of what is called social exclusion in cities. Here too, more profound analyses of the connection between the development of these neighbourhoods and the rest of the city are often missing.
However, comparing research from these different fields can provide a more thorough understanding of the interaction between spatial and social processes that lead to segregation, urban decay and deprived neighbourhoods. Much of the empirical material used in this book to il-lustrate analyses and qualify conclusions stems from my own research on Danish conditions during the last ten years.
- Hans Thor Andersen Storbyens ændrede socialgeografi –storkøbenhavn i et nordvesteuropæisk perspektiv (Translated as The changing social geography of big cities – greater Copenhagen in a North-western European perspective) Hans Reitzel, København. 2005.
A PDF of an English summary of this piece can be downloaded from here.
- Troels Schultz Larsen De Forsømte – Skitse til en socialvidenskabelig analyse af relationerne mellem produktionen af forsømte boligområder, de sociale kampe om det boligsociale integrationsarbejde og den boligsociale integration Roskilde Universitet, Roskilde. 2009.
My own PhD. dissertation: “The dilapidated – Outline of a sociological analysis in terms of field of the relations between the production of dilapidated urban areas, the social struggles over the content, organization and execution of the social housing integration work in the dilapidated urban areas and the social inclusion of the residents of the dilapidated urban areas.”
Short English Summary:
Over the last 30-40 years, the development of two closely linked trends has set crucial footprints on our society. The first trend is the disconnection between economic growth and equality. On this backdrop most Western societies have since the late seventies and early eighties witnessed the coming of a multi-face inequality and the crystallization of social inequality – Denmark is no exception in this context. Meanwhile, these multi-faceted inequalities have been connected with new forms of marginalization, which has resulted in an ethnic- as well as a spatial segregation of many western cities. Not only in Copenhagen and 'the big towns', but all over the country from Sønderborg to Aalborg from Esbjerg to Svendborg from Næstved to Helsingør. This segregation is often perceived and highlighted as one of the primary causes of a number of negative self-reinforcing processes, which at the extreme is resulting in social unrest and the disconnection of entire neighbourhoods, very often this is referred to or summarized as de facto signs of ghettorization. The second trend is the emergence and spread of a xenophobic ideology related to the 'permanent' unemployment among large sections of especially the declassified working classes in general, and the ethnic minorities in particular, and especially the ethnic minorities transition from temporary labour to a permanent sections of the population (Castles 1984:190 ff, Wacquant 2008a:163).
This advanced marginalization (Wacquant 1996, 2008a), is an unambiguous category, neither in a concrete empirical sense nor in a wider European comparative perspective. But the advanced marginalization can be characterized by several structural conditions and relation, which may have different empirical expressions depending on the specific context; but which nevertheless relate to the same societal transformations. The post-Fordist reorganization of the production from industrial to service-based production is characterized by the emergence and propagation of a new category of limited low-qualified jobs and low paid jobs. Another expression is, as mentioned, the accumulation of overlapping or multi-face problems for many households in the bottom of the social hierarchy, which often is concentrated in specific neighbourhoods. An accumulation that has contributed to an eroding of the solidarity, culture and social life in these areas, and it often takes the forms of the weakening of social networks, but also in terms of increased confrontations, and in the form of weakened interpersonal relations and norms. A third feature of the advanced marginalization is the difficulties the public interventions and programs have had to rectify these problems, not to mention these arrangements inability to address the causes of the problems and their persistence. That is to say in its Danish variation, the advanced marginalization apparently is, despite increased public awareness and enterprise, nevertheless characterized by a continuous concentration of people from the bottom of society in specific parts of the non-profit housing sector. What is more, most of these neighbourhoods have been known first as ‘high rent estates’ then ‘exposed’ or ‘multiproblem areas’ since the mid or late seventies. Phrased short, one can ask the question: ‘how is it that Denmark since the seventies, despite continuous economic growth, has experienced specific areas where the main characteristic have been the accumulation of socially disadvantaged?’ That is what has been the central motivation for this thesis. The importance of this issue is underlined by the fact that housing sector is one of the main mechanisms for the allocation of public goods and privileges. In other words, access to the housing market, and especially the privileged parts of this market, has an enormous impact on the individual economically, socially and symbolically.
In this respect it is important to underline that the focus of this thesis is not the production of space, but the reproduction of social differences through a series of complex relationships between symbolic, social and physical space. The ambition of the thesis is to outline a model of social scientific explanation that can make tangible the reproduction of differences by investigating relationships between, how the dilapidated neighbourhoods are perceived in public and within the social sciences, how different social groups' positions in social sphere are inscribed in physical space and how this relates to the perception of the dilapidated neighbourhoods, and thirdly how the specific work of ‘social housing inclusion work’ is organized and conducted within, what I have chosen to call (with inspiration from the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu) the ‘field of the social housing inclusion work’. The thesis basis is the practical-theoretical tradition that has its roots around Bourdieu and his collaborators. Specifically, the thesis is based on the specific and explicit construction of a scientific object which is part one. A part two which contains three separate but related historical concrete analysis of different, dilapidated urban areas, the residents of the dilapidated urban areas, and the social housing integration work conducted in these dilapidated urban areas. The last part (III) contains a discussion of dilapidated and urban marginality in Denmark.
Part I. The construction of a scientific research object
Part I is a historizing content analysis, where I try to illustrate the relationship between how different academic positions perceive and conduct scientific work related to the concept of neighbourhood effects. Through this historizing content analysis I try to outline in a concrete way the scientific point of view of this thesis in relation to a number of other academic positions. At the same time I use the analysis to outline the ‘blind spots’ of the research conducted around the notion of neighbourhood effects and what could be termed mainstream government funded urban research in Denmark. In this way the analysis also deliminates the dominant (symbolic) position on the ‘housing/urban marginality question’ in Denmark. Thus the outline of the following three empirical windows is, in my opinion, a specific and praxis-theoretical way of dealing with my own critique of the field of Neighbourhood effect research. The empirical foundation of the historizing content analysis was the classification of 109 peer-reviewed journal articles.
Part II. Three historic concrete empirical windows
The first empirical window: Neglected neighbourhoods and the field of the social housing inclusion work
Based on Bourdieus discussions on 'site effects' (Bourdieu et.al. 1999:123) the first empirical window argues, that in addition to the two spaces constructed in Bourdieus book ‘Distinction’ (1984) a third space can be added - the physical space. This physical space is homological to the symbolic space and social space in the same manner as those spaces are homological with one another. The first empirical window is a specific analysis of the relationship between the symbolic space, social space and physical space based on a multiple correspondence analysis of 35 dilapidated neighbourhoods.
The second empirical window: Occupants social differentiations in the neglected neighbourhoods
Based on Bourdieus model of the principal principles of social differentiation in social space (the volume of capital and the combinations of capital). The second empirical window seeks to illustrate, how the residents of four dilapidated neighbourhoods are socially differentiated by the same principles. The empirical material used is a survey with 1253 residents from four dilapidated neighbourhoods in the winter of 2006/2007. Based on the discussions of the first empirical window and the French-American sociologist Loïc Wacquants comparative analysis of the differences of the advanced marginalization in the American black ghettos and the former working-class districts in France urban periphery (Wacquant 2008a) it discussed how there is no evidence to sustain the widespread tendency to describe the dilapidated neighbourhoods in Denmark, as ghettos or parallel societies. This enables an analysis that takes into account the causes of the social fragmentation of the dilapidated neighbourhoods which can be described as the product of the historical development of a dual housing market.
The third empirical window: The contending positions within the field of the social housing inclusion work
By reference to Wacquant (2008a) and Bourdieu (et.al. 1999), it is necessary to view the specific public interventions and programs as part of the field. This is to underline that it is not the case that state has withdrawed from the dilapidated neighbourhoods as the American dystopia prescribes (Wacquant 2008a). First of all there have since the ‘Troika loans’ in the seventies, the SUM-programme in the eighties and later the larger environmental improvement projects been carried out more and more projects and an ever increasing public interest and investment in the dilapidated neighbourhoods (Though it is important to keep in mind that despite the increases in the investments these have never reached the level of the negative capital (in the wide sense of the term) flows out of the dilapidated neighbourhood relating principally to the specific construction of the dual housing market). In the same period there has been a shift in the way the housing social integration work is perceived, the ways it is organized and with these changed perceptions and organizations the conditions for carrying out social housing inclusion work. Thus, the prevailing ideology in the regulation of executive governmental activities helped to produce an increasingly retail-oriented differentiation of management procedures, as an example through intensification of monitoring and evaluation of residents and an increased focus on the individualization of the social housing inclusion work. These changes and reorganizations were promoted by street level bureaucrats as well despite the fact that field workers' own influence on their work is reduced. In this way it is also possible to clarify the relationship between public interventions and programs and the reproduction of the social differences (inequality).
Part III. The dilapidated
The crux of the matter is not whether neighbourhood effects have a theoretical or empirical priority proportional to the conditions of everyday life in the dilapidated neighbourhoods, but rather how the conditions of everyday life and with it neighbourhood effects are the product of contradictory and conflicting political processes. In other words, neighbourhood effects have to be understood as the outcome, enrolled directly in physical space, social space and symbolic space, by concrete historical struggles between contending positions about the definitions, distributions and acquisitions of various public goods and services.
It is this understanding that lies behind my choice of title for the thesis – the dilapidated. First of all is the notion of the dilapidated is a break with the commonsense notions that flourish. Secondly the notion emphasizes, that it is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. The dilapidated neighbourhoods are not ‘exposed’: The church in Maarup is exposed – to wind and sea. The dilapidated neighbourhoods are not ‘maladjusted’, which means there are no unfortunate coincidences that may be corrected by a simple turn of a wheel in the bureaucratic machinery, and the dilapidated neighbourhoods are not ghettos – a most anti-ghettos as Wacquant points out (2008a), but this says more about some constitutive factors. To indicate that the dilapidated neighbourhoods as the notion of dilapidated emphasizes a realistic optic on a number of very specific problems and it stresses that dilapidation is related to neglect and hence to human activity (in the sense that the dilapidated neighbourhoods are a physical, social and symbolic expression of various contending positions), which means there are political priorities a play and thus that the historical conditions could have been different, and consequently that they are also possible to change. In this respect and in relation to concepts such as exposed or maladjusted there are something fundamental positive by the fact that the neighbourhood and residents are dilapidated.
- Brigitta Gomez Nielsen The Hidden Politics of a Haunted Sector - Retrenchment in Danish Housing Policy 2001-2009 Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Copenhagen, PhD Thesis. 2010.
BGN is now senior researcher at AKF – Governmental Research (the research institution of the 99 local governments in Denmark)
Short English Summary:
The puzzle guiding this thesis is the question of how retrenchment can come about given the absence of outspoken political reform initiatives; or in other words, ‗change without reforms‘.
The thesis is a plausibility probe that investigates the potential in understanding ‗change without reform‘ by addressing a specific causal path that links a specific policy instrument initiated at t0 with the retrenchment outcome at t1. As a result of the methodological set-up, the thesis presents a ‗candidate solution‘ to the puzzle of how change without reform can be grasped empirically as well as theoretically.
Empirically, the thesis investigates Danish housing policy under the Liberal-Conservative minority coalition governments under the rule of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Liberals) from 2001-2009 and contributes with insights on how two cases of retrenchment have come about within third-sector housing in Denmark.. Within this context, retrenchment is defined as a move towards a more selective housing policy. It is an outcome where the role and scope of the state is narrowed down. At the empirical level, the findings in the thesis contribute to better understanding how policy sectors that otherwise seem highly path dependent and status-quo biased can change despite the high barriers to change.
Theoretically, the thesis addresses the theoretical field of retrenchment studies by presenting an argument that is not based on openly stated reform initiatives and formal decisions but instead assumes retrenchment to be a process driven by policy instruments. The advantages found in beginning with the instruments are that retrenchment can then be addressed as both a decision-making process that leads to a reform and an implementation process that leads to a retrenchment outcome which affects target groups.
All in all, the thesis reveals why the absence of reforms cannot be equated with the absence of change as well as how the key to understanding these processes is taking a closer look at the different policy instruments that cause and sustain retrenchment.
These instruments have often been initiated under different labels and within different contexts outside of the spotlight and hype characterizing welfare state reforms.
Together, the findings in the thesis challenge the common sense idea that some policy sectors are too ‘untouchable‘ for politicians and that politicians therefore avoid introducing reforms, for which reason the sectors do not change. The link between reforms and the status quo at the political level and the link between the political level and the development within policy sectors might be more complex than what we intuitively might expect.