Citizens as Knowledge Producers in Urban Change: Can Participation Change Procedures and Systems


  • Jenny Stenberg



The aim of the article is to understand more about the potentials of citizen participation in planning. The research project in focus was conducted in a stigmatised Swedish context and was participatory in approach, including local interaction activities, case-based participant observation and key informant interviews. The project aim was to develop knowledge about the interplay between top-down invitations for dialogue and bottom-up citizen initiatives.

Two cases are discussed in relation to previous research on participation. The participatory process was shown to influence how ‘socially responsible public procurement’ of a construction project was carried out, and hence the article concludes that citizen participation in design can influence systems and procedures. The question of how such knowledge and awareness can develop the planning profession ends the article.

Author Biography

Jenny Stenberg

Jenny Stenberg is Associate Professor in urban design and planning at the Department of Architecture, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. Her action-oriented research deals with social aspects of sustainable development, and particularly with citizen participation in planning the physical urban environment – especially stigmatised areas of the ‘million programme’ built in the 1960s and 1970s.