Constructing the Suburb: Swedish Discourses of Spatial Stigmatisation

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Sal IX, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, 753 10, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Backvall, Karin
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Kulturgeografiska institutionen
  • Kontaktperson: Backvall, Karin
  • Disputation

By exploring representations of place, this thesis treats practices of spatial stigmatisation in the context of segregated Swedish cities. In three papers, different aspects of stigmatisation and place-making are discussed and analysed, where the overarching ambition is to identify and critically deconstruct the ideology behind stigma as well as suggest ways of making representation positive.

In other words, this thesis takes issue with the negative labels attached to certain urban areas by exploring dominant discursive trends and mechanisms, or techniques, of creating spatial stigma.

Theoretically, the analysis is informed by postcolonial critical research on segregation and representations of people and place, where place-making is of particular importance. The case study consists of printed news media and political discourse concerning stigmatised urban areas in Sweden, and the method is inspired by critical discourse analysis.

The empirical material covers a period of twenty years, and the analysis is particularly focused on constructions of ‘race’ and poverty and how these two dimensions intertwine. The main findings point to a dominant trend of representing stigmatised neighbourhoods as failed and miserable places that are not considered part of Sweden. They become racialised both through representations of the neighbourhoods as foreign and unintegrated places and through representations of the residents, usually categorised as the ‘immigrants’, as culturally different from ‘Swedes’.  There are signs of a more critical discourse which challenges the negative representations, but it remains weak compared to the predominance of the negative reporting.