Caring for the home in the planning of a sustainable city district
Maria Eidenskog, Linköping University

Vallastaden in Linköping in Sweden is presented as s future city district with focus on social sustainability. The planning of this new city district is political in several ways, most obviously by enacting Vallastaden as role model city for the future. The vision of social sustainability is built into Vallastaden in various ways, but most prominently through the creating of shared spaces. A common garden and park area together with “felleshus” – collective houses – are examples of the shared spaces which are meant to facilitate meetings and a feeling of togetherness. Some of the activities we usually connect to the private sphere of the home is “moved out” to these shared spaces. This research project critically examines the matters of care which were guiding in the planning of the built environment in Vallastaden. The research questions focus on how the ontological politics (Mol 1999, 2002) of the home is enacted in the planning and construction of a city district that is meant to be a role model for the future.

The first part of this project will study the documents which were produced in the planning process of Vallastaden in order to understand which matters of care that were made important and for whom the homes in Vallastaden was created. We ask: What shapes the matters of care incorporated in the visions connected to sustainability, and more specifically – the sustainable home? The concept of the home has been connected to the myth of a common genesis and a ritualistic repetition of the identity in the everyday life (Molina 2007). We therefore wonder, for whom is the homes in Vallastaden created and what matters of cares are ascribed to these homes?

 

Resuscitation as a matter of neighbourhood care
Sanne Raap and Mare Knibbe, Maastricht University

In this paper we analyse how local resuscitation volunteers made a technical hurdle into a ‘matter of care’ for the neighbourhood. Repeated cases of ‘lost’ ambulances made lay experts trained in resuscitation address their concerns at the local neighbourhood network, where their stories resonated with the experiences of others. The local government’s failure to quickly ‘fix’ the technical malfunction of the emergency services, led to broader concerns about traceability of streets and the visibility of the neighbourhood through various representations.

The case is part of our ethnographic research about local knowledge practices in three urban low-income neighbourhoods in the south of the Netherlands. Our findings show that inhabitants form a rich source of knowledge about daily struggles for health and wellbeing. Citizens however experience many barriers to forging connections amongst themselves to address issues as collective concerns. The case of the emergency services is a remarkable exception. In spite of its focus on individual life-saving actions, resuscitation volunteers turned their knowledge into a collective concern. Through the development of care practices, the neighbourhood itself re-surfaced as an object of care.

Citizen initiatives that intervene in the public sphere to create healthier living environments are widely celebrated in Urban Health. The possibilities for assembling publics (Latour, Marres) in deprived neighbourhoods however remains an understudied area. Citizen initiatives can be conceptualized in the fashion of John Dewey as publics called into beings by issues. This approach however pays little attention to sustained practices that enable the appropriation of issues by citizens. ‘Care’ as an analytical concept provides an alternative. In this paper we draw attention to the daily work of caring, an important activity in deprived neighbourhoods, as a capacity to transforms matters of fact into ‘matters of care’ (Puig de la Bellacasa 2011).

 

Contradictory cares in community-led planning
Andy Yuille, Lancaster University

The affective dimension of care is conventionally excluded from land use planning in the UK. It is a technical discipline in which decisions are made using expert judgement based on objective evidence. It is also a practice that encourages public participation: communities care about how the places where they live will change, and are entitled to have some influence over that change. But to make the kind of arguments that are influential in the planning system, that care must be silenced. However in 2011, the Localism Act introduced neighbourhood planning to the UK, enabling community groups to write their own statutory planning policies. It also explicitly valorized care and affective connection with place, and paired this with knowledge of place (rather than opposing it to objective evidence). Through long-term ethnographic studies of two neighbourhood planning groups I trace the contours of care in this innovative space. I show how the legitimacy of these collectives relies on their enactment of three distinct identities and the sources of authority associated with them. These identities must be made to hold together, but must also be kept apart, as their relations of care conflict. I explore the objects of care, methods of caring, exclusions from care and ideals of good care that are associated with each identity. I discuss the politics of care that arise from the particular ways in which different carings are made to hang together, and speculate about how treating the objects of neighbourhood planning as “matters of care” rather than matters of fact could do these politics differently, enabling silenced relations to become visible and enabling policy to do care better. I conclude by reflecting on the difference made by framing this analysis in terms of care.

 

Ethics of care and pragmatic concerns in building renovation
Elena Bogdanova, University of Gothenburg

Focused initially on national monuments, the debate on building renovation has recently shifted to ordinary contexts of private houses which are not legally protected as cultural heritage. Besides fuelling a rapidly growing circular market for building parts that attracts a large number of professional actors, this trend led to a growing public debate about „careful renovation“ that in most cases is not legally regulated. In Sweden, the movements such as „I saved a deserted house“ has become a popular trend, and a lifestyle that attracts a diverse group of followers who are not experts in building renovation and who intend to take care of the houses. Maria Puig de la Bellacasa argues that care implicates different relationalities, issues and practices in different settings (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2017). In this particular case I am tracing practices of care that relate to maintenance and repair of old wooden houses. Empirically I approach online discussions focused on repair implemented by houseowners and other actors, in which the ideas of care in terms of economic efficiency or affordability of new materials are contrasted to solutions of ethical repair and reuse in a traditional way. Following Puig de la Bellacasa (2011) I trace different understanding and practices of care implemented by diverse actors on the continuum between strong normative commitments and pragmatic “concerns”.

 

Qualculating care and self-sufficiency: restructuring the Dutch welfare state through a measuring device
Yoren Lausberg, University of Amsterdam

Following a large-scale restructuring and retrenchment of the welfare state in The Netherlands, a device was produced to (re-)assess the care needs and level of autonomy of welfare recipients. Based on ethnographic research, this paper describes the everyday practices of social workers who are now required to measure and assess their clients, it shows its usages, how these practices influence social work and notions of adequate care. Using Cochoy’s/Callon & Law’s notion of qualcualtion, it argues that care is not something that is outside of accountability but something that is made accountable through these practices. What seems like a shallow device for assessing care needs becomes itself laden with care, it is already this care for the device that changes the practice of measuring and assessing.