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Time: Mon 2021-06-14 10.00

Location: För videolänk besök / visit, Du som saknar dator /datorvana kontakta Jonathan Metzger / Use the e-mail address if you need technical assistance, Stockholm (Swedish)

Subject area: Planning and Decision Analysis, Urban and Regional Studies

Doctoral student: Karin Winter , Urbana och regionala studier

Opponent: Universitetslektor Dalia Mukhtar-Landgren, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Lunds universitet

Supervisor: Professor Jonathan Metzger, Urbana och regionala studier


This thesis concerns the relative lack of social perspectives in transport planning. This lack seemingly occurs despite the knowledge of transport and transport planning having vast social consequences of various sorts, reportedly leading to social inequalities and playing into social exclusion as well as broadly speaking, being formative of societal changes with different meanings for different persons. The aim of the research has been to better understand and to be able to pinpoint how this lack is normalized and sustained. Such knowledge is sparse and potentially useful with regards to creating a transport planning more equipped with concerns about social differences.

In order to meet the aim the study has examined dominant ways of understanding transport planning. This approach has been guided by the assumption that it matters how planning is understood and made meaningful; that it has consequences for what is seen as important. Based on this assumption the study explores current ways of understanding transport planning at the Swedish Transport Administration. The Swedish Transport Administration has been selected for the study mainly because of its influential role as a national planning agency in Sweden.

The study builds on theory developed by the political theorists Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. Through a discourse analysis the understanding of transport planning at the Swedish Transport Administration have been described as consisting of three dominant discourses. These discourses have in addition been analyzed with regards to how they construct people and society. The analysis also explores how social differences can be regarded as a topic of relevance in the respective discourses. Taken together this has created knowledge of how social differences are given its current standing as a transport planning issue.

The overall results show that the dominant ways, in which transport planning tends to be understood within the Administration, construct social differences as a planning topic of lesser significance. Several taken for granted truths of transport planning work actively to exclude social differences from what is constructed as of relevance to transport planning. Acknowledgments of social differences can therefore be seen as partly in conflict with the current ways of assigning meaning to transport planning. The study thereby implies that the current marginalization of social differences in transport planning practices is deeply rooted in the ways planning tends to be understood and taken for granted. This knowledge helps explain why social perspectives seem to be hard to integrate into transport planning at the Swedish Transport Administration and possibly more generally. Furthermore, the results highlight democratic problems with transparency and outdated modernistic planning ideals. It is argued, drawing on the combined results as well as previous research, that the transport planning at the Swedish Transport Administration needs to be radically rethought.