SoFo in Stockholm: Placemaking in the age of hipster urbanism
Sammanfattning: The transformation of cities through gentrification and the commodification of culture and green space are central problems in Urban Studies. This thesis investigated how cities like Stockholm can move forward from this gentrification. The perspective of relational placemaking was taken, as this can occur both top-down via actions of urban planners and bottom-up by the organization of local residents. The SoFo neighbourhood on the island of Södermalm in central Stockholm is a rich example of gentrification and hipster urbanism. This research investigates the meaning of SoFo today, over 20 years after it was first named. The analysis was organized using the relational placemaking framework of Pierce and colleagues. To summarize, the problem or conflict was gentrification and this was illustrated for SoFo using data. Gentrification occurred after 2001 and the rapid rise in property value, a 20% turnover of people and the Swedish middle class demographics each confirm the gentrification noted by others. With this problem established, theplace frame of the current identity of SoFo was what the actors interacted around and what was considered as the response to gentrification. The initial placemaking of SoFo rested on a strong identity that was both radical and carefree and respondents tended to look back with nostalgia to the 90s when the area was the centre of the Stockholm music scene. The brand of SoFo was mainly produced grassroots through local residents and businesses without specific top-down actions from the city government. The two actors explored were real estate and small businesses. Real estate could encourage gentrification through the discourse in the ads and selective marketing to wealthy gentrifiers that appreciated quality and could afford it. Looking at final sale prices from abehavioural perspective, people were willing to pay for living in SoFo and paid more to be near areas like Nytorget with its liveliness. However, realtors claimed that SoFo also offers relaxation or peace and quiet, which rebrands away from the established carefree identity. Looking then at the small businesses, evidence was provided that indicated a strategy against gentrification. Many businesses focused on small scale handicraft or providing places for their friends and local community. Some were even not interested in a profitable business plan and acted on purpose to make their place uncool, to avoid attracting trendy hipsters that would displace their clientele. Small businesses were also rebranding SoFo, expressing that the carefree and relaxed identity is there if one looks away from trendy Nytorget. The defensive strategy of the small businesses was subtle and unusual and led the author to the following, somewhat informal analogy: SoFo is playing dead until the bear of gentrification moves on to another neighbourhood. This strategy understands theinterconnectivity of trendy, authentic shops, raised rents and gentrification.
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