Since August 2018 I am employed as a PhD student at the Department of Spatial Planning at the Swedish School of Planning. I hold a masters degree in Spatial planning and have, after graduating, worked as a spatial planner in municipal organisations. In my research, I am interested in how the growing interest in the countryside can be understood from a planning perspective and I am particularly interested in various methods for rural development and how ideas about the rural are conceptualized in contemporary planning discussion.
My research interest is within the field of rural planning and planning for rural development. I am particularly interested in how policies for planning for rural development are conceptualized in contemporary planning practice and discussion.
Planning practice has for a long time been occupied with ideas of growth and the question of how urban areas can generate growth. Growth has in many ways become an overarching idea that is influencing planning practice and academic planning debate. Though, this predominant idea has complicated the situation for areas with limited growth opportunities and are also showing to create ‘growth-issues’ in urban, growth-areas. However, due to structural changes; climate change and peak oil, many planning practioners and scholars starts to question the growth ideals and recognize that there is a need for planning outside urban, growth areas, evidenced by ingoing debates and interest in development and planning of rural areas (see Gallent & Gkartzios 2019). For this reason, I am turning the attention towards planning for rural development in Swedish municipal planning. How is planning for rural development thought and conducted in Swedish municipalities? How is the rural managed in different municipalities, with different amounts of growth but with considerable rural areas? How can the interest in planning for rural development be understood? Is it a continuation of the current growth-inspired planning? Or is it a reaction and a new way of perceiving the purpose of planning? Is planning for rural developing working beyond ideas of urban growth?
The purpose of my current work is to analyse how ideas of ‘the rural’ is conceptualised and represented within contemporary planning policy and practice and what these representations imply for life in rural areas. More specifically the aim is to critical interrogate how ‘the rural’ is represented as problematisation within planning policy for rural development in Swedish municipal planning and to study what effects these representations have for life in rural areas. In doing so the paper seek to add to the discussion of how spatial planning is handling issues of growth by s managing rural development and more specifically how rural development is discussed and deployed through various policy representations.