Sustainability in practice: A governmentality study about transit‐oriented development in rural areas

Freja Lina Huhle, master thesis, Malmö University, 2021

As a response to meet climate targets, transit-oriented development is seen as a tool in Swedish regional development to decrease car dependency. By national infrastructural investments in new train stations, small municipalities are expected to continue the transit-oriented development by plan dense areas with housing in connection to the new train stations. Previous research has shown that sustainable development plans are hard to implement, and that there is a lack of research about the processual dimension of implementing transit-oriented development plans, especially in rural areas. The aim of the thesis is to scrutinise the conditions in which these plans are supposed to be put into place at a municipal level, and in what way municipal interest affect to the implementation. The research question is asking how sustainable development is enacted in practice from the example of transit-oriented developmentin rural areas close to bigger cities. The chosen case studies are two neighbouring municipalities in Västra Götaland region that got new train stations in 2012, according to the planning norm of TOD and due to being located in a designated transport corridor. The empirical data consist of five comprehensive plans and interviews with six municipal politicians. By using a theoretical framework of governmentality studies the rationalities and underlying assumptions that makes the certain enactment of the plans intelligible are analysed. The result show that there are different logics behind the implementation of transit-oriented development plans at the regional and at the municipal level. The rationalities to implement the municipal plans conflict with the stated aim of the plans. When striving for a bigger tax base, the municipalities build housing that attract middle class families, which are the opposite of the dense development close to the train stations that are the goal of the regional plans. Because of interurban competition for a certain population, a sustainable development though transitoriented development can be hard to implement.

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