Bypolitik i Danmark
The essay discusses Danish urban politics and its present-day challenges in two partly separated sections: first, the intra-urban issues of social change, marginalisation and exclusion, and related problems; and secondly, inter-urban or regional development. Finally, the essay ends with a discussion of current trends in urban policy: are we on our way to more market domination and less state control? Urban policy is a quite broad topic, which cannot easily be defined. In this essay, urban policy is used more pragmatically.
In general, it can be used in three different ways: as a policy directed towards steering and regulating cities and their internal conditions; as a sector policy targeted at specific urban phenomena, such as traffic policy, housing and planning policies; and as sector policies, such as financial or social policy with unintended urban effects. This essay will focus on the first, intended sort of urban policies, although others forms have had major impact on the shaping of urban conditions.
Hans Thor Andersen
Roskilde University - Denmark
No doubt the world outside the country realised that an important change had taken place when a right-wing government took office in late 2001 and promulgated its objectives, namely more restrictions on and less tolerance towards refugees, immigrants and their descendants. This shift also reflected a major transformation in society from a more ‘classic’ situation of class struggle to a more volatile situation of many social cleavages and contrasts, where alliances and enemies both change quickly. However, the field of urban politics has certainly turned from being primarily being a welfare issue at the start of the 1980s to becoming a highly contested field for prioritising social resources in the 1990s.
If the change of government has been visible in any policy field, it must be urban politics, with its strong trust in reducing central government influence, the stronger impact of the market in solving problems of urban renewal, and the clear reduction of the approach to socially deprived neighbourhoods to being a problem of ethnic minorities. Urban policy is still mainly based on a welfare approach, but at the same time it has shifted towards one of ‘firefighting’ – that is, visible and acute problems in certain localities are dealt with, but the underlying causes remain untouched. Among these is the existing housing market, which is producing growing social differences and segregation.