Founding transdisciplinary knowledge production in critical realism

New publication, available from here:

This article explains the implications and benefits of founding transdisciplinary collaborations of knowledge production in critical realism. We call such equal partnerships of researchers and practitioners knowledge alliances. Drawing on the distinction between the referent to which we refer (the object that our research is about) and our references (our research about this object), we show that practitioners can contribute to the process of knowledge production by providing access to referents and producing references but also by achieving societal relevance. In order to accomplish excellence, knowledge production should be organized in ways that engage different types of knowledge in a constructive interplay and use the respective strong points of researchers and practitioners. Abduction and retroduction, two modes of inference vital to critical realism, are particularly inclined to benefit from involving practitioners in knowledge production. We call such an approach potential-oriented and put it in contrast to problem-orientation and the empiricism of evidence-based research and policy-making.

Stigendal, Mikael & Novy, Andreas (2018). Founding transdisciplinary knowledge production in critical realism: implications and benefits. Journal of Critical Realism 17:3, 203-220

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Aiming at Social Cohesion in Cities to Transform Society

New article (August 2018) in Integrating Human Health into Urban and Transport Planning by Mark Nieuwenhuijsen and Haneen Khries (Eds.)

However one defines social cohesion – and several alternatives will be presented in this chapter – it does not characterize contemporary cities. On the contrary, cities are plagued by inequality, while at the same time being at the forefront of economic development. The EU cohesion policy has been instrumental in this divided development. As it directs the structural funds, what the EU means by cohesion has had a profound impact on cities. In the last decades, cohesion has been sought on market conditions, in line with neoliberalism, where the life of the included middle class people has served as a norm to aspire for. This has instead unleashed the potential causes of inequality inherent in the capitalist system and thereby aggravated inequality, most seriously concerning health. Transport and urban planning measures have deepened a community severance between the socially included and the socially excluded by favouring the more profitable transport modes. A social cohesion of cities on current conditions is not a solution because that would aggravate and preserve the problems causing inequalities. Therefore, the causes of inequality should be combated and that should be done in ways where the people affected by the causes are seen as potentials and where these potentials (in particular their experience and knowledge) are taken advantage of. The social cohesion to strive for in cities, thus, is a collective empowerment of people who wants to combat these causes and thereby transform society.

Stigendal, Mikael (2018). Aiming at social cohesion in cites to transform society. In M. Nieuwenhuijsen & H. Khreis (Eds.): Integrating human health into urban and transport planning. Cham: Springer International Publishing

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Combatting the Causes of Inequality Affecting Young People Across Europe

In April 2018, I published a book with the above title. It is based on the project Citispyce. More information on that project is available here. The book has been published by Routledge and described there like this:

Inequality is one of the most burning issues of our time, affecting young people in particular. What causes inequality? And how can actors at the local level combat the causes, not only the symptoms? By seeking to answer these questions, the book will contribute to this growing and transdisciplinary subject area by using mainly qualitative research and a perspective that integrates theory in every phase of the analysis.

Drawing on cultural political economy, based on critical realism, the author claims that the most important causes of inequality are the ones inherent as potentials in capitalism and the capitalist type of state. Compared with the first post-war decades, these potential causes have been actualised differently since around 1980. They are also actualised differently across Europe. The book explores these differences concerning growth models and welfare regimes. In general, societies have developed into a new condition of social inclusion, which explains why many young people have become excluded. Societal borders have arisen in the cities, separating the winners and losers of inequality.

Positioning itself outside the box of what tends to be the majority of the publications in the field, the book proposes knowledge alliances between young people, policy-makers, civil society and researchers to combat the causes of inequality.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Klass i Malmö

I mars publicerade jag min rapport En fråga om klass i framtidsstaden Malmö, vilken ingår i projektet ”Klass i Sverige”. Mer information om projektet och publiceringen av min rapport finns här. Rapporten blev kommenterad i SDS av Heidi Avellan. Det skrev jag ett svar på men eftersom endast en förkortad version publicerades i tidningen, publicerar jag här den fullständiga versionen:

Det finns inga klasser, skriver Heidi Avellan den 17 mars. Talet om klasser, klasskamp och klassidentitet hör historien till. Det är nostalgi. Men hur kan det då komma sig att enorma rikedomar har omfördelats till de välbeställda under de senaste decennierna? Och vilka har varit drivande i att förvandla delar av offentlig sektor till en skattebetald vinstmarknad? Det kan också kallas klasskamp. Och nog har det utvecklats både klassidentitet och klasskultur inom denna välbeställda minoritet av befolkningen, borgarklassen som den också brukar kallas. Men sådant finns det tydligen ingen anledning att synliggöra, enligt Avellan.

Själv har jag försökt bidra till att synliggöra arbetarklassen i Malmö genom min rapport ”En fråga om klass i framtidsstaden Malmö”, utgiven av den fackliga tankesmedjan Katalys. Det rör sig om ca 45% av alla förvärvsarbetande malmöbor. De har mycket gemensamt vad gäller bl a arbetsförhållanden, inflytande och lönevillkor. Jag kan också visa i min rapport att arbetarklassen inte är lika uppdelad som tidigare på varken kön eller bakgrund. Om fler upptäckte detta skulle de kunna hävda sina gemensamma intressen mera kraftfullt. Precis just det som borgarklassen har varit så bra på under de senaste decennierna. Och de har haft stor hjälp av det osynliggörande som Avellan företräder i sin artikel. Detta osynliggörande av klass är i sig en viktig orsak till de senaste decenniernas ökande ojämlikhet.

För Avellan tycks det bara finnas en lösning. Carl Bildt kallade det i början av 1990-talet för den enda vägens politik. Andra har kallat det nyliberalism. Det innebär att marknaden ska bestämma. Jobb till varje pris, oavsett kvalitet och villkor. Det kräver avregleringar och privatiseringar. Som Christina Persson skrev på denna sida den 9 mars har detta skapat växande klyftor, arbetslöshet, fattigdom och krig. Det vet vi nu efter flera decennier med denna politik. Vi har facit. Mer av samma, alltså? Häpnadsväckande.

Själv vill jag tro på en ny framtidsoptimism. Men då krävs det att vi lyfter blicken. Det gör jag i min rapport genom att ställa en fråga om hur Malmö ska förtjäna sin plats i världen. Ännu bättre kan det bli om många malmöbor engageras i en kunskapsutveckling om denna viktiga fråga och därmed även i en förnyelse av demokratin. Talet om arbetarklass fyller då en viktig funktion eftersom det adresserar människor utifrån vad de bidrar med och antyder att de har så mycket gemensamt. Är det inte hög tid att välja en annan väg och med ett brett folkligt stöd innan de främlingsfientliga högerkrafterna tar över och klimatförändringarna beseglar vårt öde?

Malmö den 20 mars 2018
Mikael Stigendal
Professor i sociologi
Malmö Universitet

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Act.Now in Vienna, 29-30 January 2018

Act.Now is an initiative taken in the wake of the refugee crisis in 2015. It was set up as an enterprise, acting internationally but based in Vienna. The first international conference was held in Vienna in 2016 and since then in total 5 conferences have been arranged. According to its website, against the background of profound societal changes, Act.Now “aspires to a respectful and appreciative social coexistence to be possible in the near and distant future”. Act.Now encourages people to take on more responsibility, connects active individuals and initiatives, provides information about social changes and their impact, to promote the discussion of new solutions, and uses formats that are both cognitively and emotionally effective.

I was invited to the 5:th international conference, held in Vienna, 29-30 January 2018. The conference had the title “Shaping the Future – Social Cohesion in our Cities” and is presented like this at the website:

“The influx of migrants in 2015 and 2016 highlighted problems that already existed in societies: in particular social inequality and polarisation, which have had a significant negative impact on community life. This development is especially worrying with regard to children and young people. How are towns, cities and communities addressing these challenges? And how can social cohesion at community level be strengthened? The 5th International Mayors’ Conference NOW, which took place on 29 and 30 January in Vienna, concentrated on this topic, with a special focus on the younger generation. Around 190 political decision-makers, experts, NGO representatives and citizens from 27 countries discussed and analysed cross-border approaches to overcoming the challenges facing our society.”

I participated in one of the panels, the one with the title “Social cohesion – towards new political debates and policies”. More information on the conference and its results can be found here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lectures in Vienna

In the second week of January, I was invited by professor Andreas Novy at Vienna University of Economics and Business to give two lectures. The audience at the first one were master students. The lecture, with the title Social Innovations to Combat Inequality, can be downloaded here. The second one was given at the Critical realist workshop with the title Mobilizing and Founding Knowledge Alliances to Combat Inequality, and it can be downloaded here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Delegationen mot segregation (Delmos)

I juni 2016 presenterade regeringen ett långsiktigt reformprogram för minskad segregation. Det beslutades att en statlig myndighet med namnet Delegationen mot segregation skulle inrättas för att i samverkan med kommuner, landsting, regioner, myndigheter, forskare och organisationer i det civila samhället verka för genomförandet av reformprogrammet. En särskild kommitté utsågs för att under 2017 förbereda och genomföra bildandet av myndigheten. Som ett led i denna förberedelse bjöd kommittén in till ett antal dialogträffar med representanter från kommuner och landsting/regioner ute i landet under augusti och september. I samband med kommunbesöken ville kommittén också träffa aktörer från forskningen och civilsamhället. Den 25 augusti genomfördes en sådan dialogträff i Malmö där jag deltog som en av närmare 10 forskare från Malmö Högskola.

Den 8 december 2017 anordnades en konferens på Södertörns Högskola inför starten av den nya myndigheten Delegationen mot segregation. Jag engagerades som key-note speaker på temat ”Segregationens orsaker och framtidens möjligheter” och min föreläsning presenterades så här: ”Mikael Stigendal, professor i sociologi vid Malmö högskola, ger perspektiv på arbetet mot segregation utifrån sina erfarenheter från Malmökommissionen och sin senaste bok Samhällsgränser. Ojämlikhetens orsaker och framtidsmöjligheterna i en storstad som Malmö. Hur kan Delmos bli en del av lösningen och inte en del av problemet?” Min presentation filmades och den kan nås här. En pdf-version av min presentation kan laddas ner här.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment