Kampen om bilden av Ersboda : En fallstudie av konflikten kring Umeå Kommuns satsning på Ersängsskolan
Sammanfattning: In March 2021, Umeå Municipality used its social sustainability fund to finance a project aimed at better integrating the work of social services with that of Ersängsskolan, a middle school in the neighbourhood of Ersboda. This decision led to a media debate, spearheaded by civil society representatives from Ersboda who denounced this initiative as misguided and stigmatizing. The present thesis approaches this conflict as an interesting example of how different understandings of segregation can lead to deadlocked debates, in the absence of a proper understanding of the theoretical underpinnings informing each perspective. Using critical discourse analysis, this thesis analyzes municipal documents, as well as transcripts from fourteen interviews with people connected to both sides of the conflict, in order to determine what discourses clashed in the debate. This study shows that whereas the municipality approaches Ersboda’s perceived “social unrest” as an area-based problem connected to specific individuals or groups in need of targeted help, civil society actors tend to stress broader structural explanations such as economic inequality or structural discrimination, and consequently to endorse solutions like general welfare reforms or anti-racism initiatives. As shown in the thesis, both perspective are informed by opposing national discourses on disadvantaged neighbourhoods, segregation and stigmatization. Attention is drawn to this complex discursive interplay across several geographical scales in order to highlight the importance of studying local debates in a broader discursive context, and the need for a better, more horizontal dialogue between municipal representatives and Ersboda’s civil society.
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