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From policy community to issue networks: Implementing social sustainability in a Swedish urban development programme
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7737-5850
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5486-8273
2019 (English)In: Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, ISSN 2399-6544, E-ISSN 2399-6552Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

In this article a “sustainable urban development” programme in Sweden (Delegation for Sustainable Cities, 2008–2012) is analysed, with a particular focus on the social dimension, and in the light of a commonly held assumption of a general shift in politics over time “from government to governance”. However, on closer examination the programme comes out as something quite different. Taking “policy community” as our conceptual point of departure the article first portrays how post-war housing policy in Sweden was implemented jointly by a potent central government, strong local governments, public housing companies and major interest organisations. The Delegation for Sustainable Cities, on the other hand, was launched as “a national arena for sustainable urban development” with a multifaceted mission, including the production and dissemination of knowledge through best practice; the promotion of multi-actor dialogue and coordination; and the use and export of green technology. Implementation of the programme was delegated to a small number of projects in selected housing districts. In relation to the narrative “from government to governance”, the Delegation for  Sustainable Cities rather indicates the opposite, i.e. government steering by a combination of structural non-intervention, rhetorical flair and selective fragmentation into project-bound issue networks. The  sustainability discourse thus turned out to be a perfect umbrella for the fragmented implementation structure of the Delegation for Sustainable Cities programme. Instead of a tight, multi-level, national governance structure (policy community) we thus have a case of governing at some distance by a combination of what in recent literature have been labelled the Regulatory State and the Networked Polity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2019.
Keywords [en]
Policy community, issue networks, governance, government, sustainable urban development
National Category
Political Science Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-71259DOI: 10.1177/2399654418820077OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-71259DiVA, id: diva2:1276627
Available from: 2019-01-08 Created: 2019-01-08 Last updated: 2019-01-14Bibliographically approved

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Elander, IngemarGustavsson, Eva

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