Urban empowerment

In the global competition for investment, many cities suffer the effects of gentrification with its intense focus on developing certain areas while other neighborhoods are neglected. This process is reinforced by a weakening public sector. There are different ways of responding to this development. In planning theory, these are described as a 'communicative turn' which began when the vision of sustainable development was implemented in the late 1980´s. This is a very brief background explanation as to why questions about 'empowerment' carry great weight in terms of planning and management. Empowerment is considered a force that can release energy when residents are seen as one of the important players in the governance processes meant to develop the city.

Culture of participation and learning

The purpose of this pilot project is to develop a 'culture of participation and learning', i.e. capacity building processes, directly linked to changes in the Hammarkullen area in Gothenburg. A capacity building process is a way to act which makes it easier for participants involved (residents, practitioners, researchers, teachers, students, etc.) to enhance their combined ability to contribute towards change - social as well as physical. The focus of the pilot project is on the participation of residents in these capacity-building processes.


The tangible result is that capacity building processes are being established in Hammarkullen in the autumn of 2010 and the spring of 2011. In parallel, we are analyzing the details of this establishment process. At the end of the project, recommended guidelines for how such processes can be developed and supported will be drawn up. The pilot project focuses both on how the area can be developed and how the university and the community can develop. Our activities are designed to provide spaces (physical and social) between different participants and their activities and it is in these spaces that a 'culture of participation and learning' will develop. By culture, we mean in this context, a way to engage in dialogue and move the conversation forward.

For more visit the projects web

Photographer picture Eeva Bolin: Mats Udde


Stenberg, J. (2013). Citizens as Knowledge Producers in Urban Change: Can Participation Change Procedures and Systems? Footprint, 7(13), 131-142.
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Stenberg, J., & Fryk, L. (2012). Urban Empowerment Through Community Outreach in Teaching and Design. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 3284–3289. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.052
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Stenberg, J., Fryk, L., Bolin, E., Borg, P., Castell P., Evenås, U. & Larberg, V. (2012). Urban Empowerment: Cultures of Participation and Learning. (Mistra Urban Futures Report). Gothenburg: Mistra Urban Futures.
Type: Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief