PhD research: The importance of main streets and the opportunity for migrant economies
Rosa Danenberg is a PhD Fellow in the Division of Urban and Regional Studies at KTH. Her research focuses on streets as public spaces and particularly on the future of main streets in the era of chain stores and e-commerce. The overall approach to her research is holistic in nature, studying main streets from the perspectives of urban design, urban planning, entrepreneurship and migration studies. Rosa graduated from KTH with an MSc degree in Sustainable Urban Planning and Design and a BSc degree from VU University Amsterdam (The Netherlands) in Social Sciences - Organizational Science and Public Administration. Most recently, Rosa has been a visiting PhD scholar at the University of Chicago invited by Prof. Emily Talen.
The public space agenda
Global processes such as urbanization and migration have led to growing local diversity and intensity in urban environments. Consequently, what is important for the well-being of people in cities increasingly emerges as focus for ensuring the livability, inclusion and resilience of cities. Therein, the public space agenda is at the center of this shift, recognizing the benefit of spaces for its ecological diversity, creative and economic exchange and dynamic social interaction. Observing the emerging field of public space research, cities are however challenged with the decline in quantity and quality of public space.
Streets as public space
Both global institutions and academic scholars ascribe value to ‘streets as public space and drivers of urban prosperity’ and appraise the role of streets as important everyday spaces that afford social interaction, social cohesion and personal well-being. In particular, a re-surge of interest in main streets reveals synergy arising from its dual functions: both performing as a transport artery road and public space, both connecting to the surrounding neighborhood and other city districts, both attracting both locals and visitors, and lastly both accommodating social and economic exchange, global and localness of economic activities, and local merchants as well as chain stores.
Hyper-diversity on main streets
The growing local diversity and intensity has profound consequences for the character of main streets. The activities, attitudes and lifestyles now adopted by city dwellers are no longer bound to socio-economic and ethnic grouping, but reach a state of hyper-diversity. The effects of globalization on the local economy and social networks are increasingly visible in public space, in particular on main streets. Herein, the migrant economy is observed as an appearing entrepreneurial practice on streetscapes and providing crucial neighborhood services.
Main streets and migrant economy in Stockholm
My research focuses on studying the emerging trends and processes on main streets in the era of e-commerce and chain stores. The effects of varied fine-grain scales of plots and plates for migrant economies is the first paper published (Danenberg et al. 2018). Future papers discuss, firstly, the growing numbers of condominium associations and its effects on ground floor activities for the main street’s place attachment and authenticity, and, secondly, the coexisting global and local social networks anchored in the main street as an effect of hyper-diversity.