Holes in the spaces of the welfare state: Media coverage and residents’ responses in the so-called hardest ghettos in Denmark

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Abstract

Several studies account for stigmatisation in disadvantaged areas and its negative consequences for residents, including in a Danish context. However, the research literature has given only limited attention so far to the relationship between the stories of the welfare state and its excluded spaces, such as the recent proclamation by the former Danish Prime Minister of disadvantaged housing areas as constituting ‘holes in the map of Denmark’. Based on empirical case studies in eight disadvantaged Danish housing areas that are currently regenerated (the so-called ‘hardest ghettos’), this chapter analyses how such areas are represented by local and national written media during a 12-month period, and how these media representations are perceived by people living in these areas. In some cases, media detach local areas from their specific, spatial context and render them as an antipole to the ideal story of the welfare state to regain order and control. Residents cope with such media stigmatisation through various tactics of appropriation and resistance. Media representation of hard ghettos both shakes up and reinforces a commonplace identity and demonstrates how stories and place reputation are linked. These representations provide insight into how the Danish welfare state copes with spatial transformation, social disintegration and fundamental problems of equality. Originally designed as the quintessence of welfare spaces providing decent housing, community and security for all, today, these housing areas have come to occupy the reverse role, representing the spatial limits of welfare, community and security.
Translated title of the contributionHuller i velfærdstatens landkort
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpace of the Danish Welfare
PublisherDet Kongelige Danske Kunstakademis Skoler for Arkitektur, Design og Konservering. Kunstakademiets Arkitektskole
Publication date1 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

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