Contact person:
Peter Parker
  • Malmö University
Responsible at Malmö University:
Peter Parker
Project members:
Time frame:
01 February 2017 - 31 August 2020

About the project

In the research platform Shifting conceptions of property in Sweden we will explore how different conceptions of property underpin legal debates, planning negotiations, and practices in daily life. We also explore how these shifts conceptions shift and underpin a re-shaping of the urban environment. The research is inherently multidisciplinary.

The concept of property is arguably central to urban studies (Blomley 2005). The way property is conceptualized has implications for how urban spaces are accessed, used and managed. Concepts of property connect and divide different constituents in urban development and provide a recurring point of contention in negotiations on urban development.

For instance, a vocal lobby in Sweden has proposed that planning and building codes be 'simplified' in order to meet the pressing need for new housing. While simplification seems inherently good, this particular claim can also be understood as a clearing away of regulation and the assertion of rights of owners in development as opposed to other specific and collective interests. Simplification is in this case means a shift of power relationships between different parties in urban development, a power relationship that is embedded within a particular understanding of property.

Similarly, calls for deregulating the rental market assert the rights of owners in relation to collective interests that rental regulations were intended to protect. These examples may illustrate something of the significance of the concept of property for urban development and may also serve to highlight how issues of property are complex and shifting.

Work streams

Work in the research platform is presently conducted in the following themes:

  • Conceptions of property underpinning the Swedish planning and building act
    The Swedish planning and building act is a central document defining relations of property.  In this stream of research we are concerned with using tools of discourse analysis to highlight conceptions of property underpinning the planning of building act and how these have shifted over time. The research will also delineate current discourses and debates. 
  • Shifting conceptions of property in urban planning
    This stream of research is concerned with how notions of public and private property inform processes and negotiations in urban planning and particularly focuses on contemporary cases that deviate from previous binary distinctions of public and private such as privately owned public spaces or where public spaces are placed in private management. The research also seeks to identify new spaces of property politics, looking at alternative spatial practices with different interpretations of property
  • Urban gating
    Recent research points to a rise of gating around residential properties in Malmö in ways that are gradually transforming the way people move and experience the city. However the empirical situation is not yet systematically documented. This research will therefore map and categorize gating, explore different drivers in this development, as well as document how gating relates to people's experiences. The work is informed by the different hypotheses relating gating to conceptions of property.
  • BIDs in Sweden
    This research explores current development of BID-like structures in Sweden. BIDs (business improvement districts) are a strong deviation from previous norms of public management of public space in Sweden. The research explores where, how and why these organizations are developed in the Swedish context.