Magnus Linnarsson (Stockholm University) and Mats Hallenberg (Stockholm University)
Welfare Cities, Public Services, The Common Good
The period following the great revolutions saw the rise of the ‘welfare city’. Cities took control over services that were considered vital for economic development and the citizens’ wellbeing. Today, the concept of welfare cities is widely discussed; how urban communities may lead the way to reform. Historical studies on how politicians and other agents promoted new public services to meet rising demands, may contribute to this discussion.
The process started already in the 18th century, with the introduction of new urban and social services. The following period experienced a renaissance for the idea of the city as a politically autonomous community. Urban administration incorporated various types of public services that had previously been organized by the private sector. Research has emphasised the municipalities’ crucial role in creating a stronger public sector. Modernization promoted public responsibility for the wellbeing of the individual. In the late 20th century, this trajectory was redirected in favour of deregulation and privatization of welfare services.
The development differed between cities. Urban communities first faced the demand for expanded public services, which make the decision-making of the city boards vital for understanding the development. Politics matter and political practices should be analysed as transnational phenomena.
This session consider the long-term development of the welfare city, launching a discussion on public services, influenced by ideologies and conceptions of the common good. We aim to cover the following themes:
- Politics; e.g. debates in political arenas on how to organize public services.
- Ideologies; e.g. how liberal and socialist notions of community affected municipal politics.
- Public services; the organization of urban services, including public infrastructure as well as social welfare services.
- The common good; perceptions of the common good. This trans-historical concept formed the context for the political decisions, and influenced the character and scope of urban services.
The Common Good in Urban Cites in Norway c. 1850-1920
Knut Dørum (University of Agder)
Urban Policies, The common Good, The Rechtstaat ideology
This paper aims at examining the ideology and motivation behind the politics that took place in urban cites in Norway c. 1850-1920. The hypothesis is that the principles of the Rechtstaat – equal treatment of every citizen and interest, law and rule based decisions and predictability in balancing interests in conflict – played a more significant role in urban policies than earlier research seems to have been aware of. Consequently, the urban authorities became compelled to approve many different claims – permission, promotion, subsidizing, other economic aid concerning harbor, railways, roads, steamships etc. – leading to a vast expansion of activities in the hands of the state and urban political organs. One approval led to another and appeared to set precedence for policies. This evolvement led to the breakthrough of the welfare state in the end of the 19th century. Moreover, the Rechtstaat ideology brought about economic liberalism from which entrepreneurs heavily benefitted. The idea that everyone should have the same opportunity to establish a enterprise turned out to dominate both social and economic policies of the urban magistrates. It provides the background for the explosion of female entrepreneurship from the 1870s onwards. However, the Rechtstaat ideology also undermined the tendencies towards social reforms and program to secure poor relief and better social conditions for the growing working class. The ideal of the self-sustained citizen and the perception that increasing poverty was a consequence of declining morality strongly prevailed. Additionally, the working class movement fostered antagonism from the social and economic elites against reformers and of what was supposed to be radicalism and socialism. In the long run the cities had to adapt to social liberalism stressing that poverty, crime and prostitution were matters which concerned the entire community and had to be dealt with by the politicians. The socialist party winning vast groups of voters put pressure on the bourgeois politicians, and spawned a new direction after c. 1900. The city had to cope with social problems and to develop social programs.
Connected – or not Connected? The Uneven Development of Municipal Services in Helsinki in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries.
Marjaana Niemi (Tampere University)
Municipal Infrastructure Services, Urban Core and Fringe, Urban Community
In the late nineteenth century, when the roles and responsibilities of city governments were expanding, the Helsinki authorities emphasised a demarcation between the urban core and the fringe. The authorities followed the principle that the city government was to provide the zoned urban areas with modern infrastructure services. The state and plot owners may have contributed to the costs, but the responsibility for providing the services rested increasingly with the city administration. In addition to paving, lighting and policing the streets, the city was expected to connect the streets to the piped water supply and sewage system. The central areas of the city were seen as orderly urban spaces: an unbroken urban fabric with buildings adjacent to each other and connected to the same infrastructure networks.
The areas outside the zoned urban core, and especially areas outside the city limits, were seen as the antithesis of orderly urban space and society. The municipal authorities viewed the fringe primarily as an extension of the city: a land reserve for future development and an ideal place for activities unwelcome in the city proper. The fringe areas were sprinkled with ‘temporary’ settlements: working-class areas, workshops, factories and scattered middle-class villas, most of them completely without access, or with poor access, to the modern municipal infrastructure services.
In my paper I will compare the provision of municipal infrastructure services in the urban core and in the fringe of Helsinki in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and, through this case study, also discuss some aspects of the phenomenon more generally in the context of Finland and Sweden (Finnish cities often looked to Swedish cities as a model when constructing their policies). The first key question is to look at the ways in which the authorities legitimated the uneven development and how their views were contested by actors active in the fringe areas – working-class people, factory owners, middle-class villa owners. Another key issue is the changing notion of urban community. The paper will discuss the process whereby the notion changed from referring exclusively to the urban core to something which extended the municipal borders.
Public Services and Political Contestation in Nordic Capital Cities c. 1850–1920
Mats Hallenberg (Stocholm University) and Magnus Linnarsson (Stockholm University)
Public Services, Political Contestation, Nordic Capital Cities
The presentation addresses the expansion of urban public services in the Nordic countries, from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century. During this period, local politicians abandoned the traditional ideal of financial austerity in order to tackle the social problems caused by rapid urbanisation. City boards assumed responsibility for services vital for economic development and the citizens’ wellbeing. New social groups were gradually included and planned for in the urban community: workers, women, children and even future citizens. We identify the discursive changes triggering this development by studying the arguments and concepts used in political debates.
In the beginning of the period, capital cities were ruled by bourgeois elites, advocating a minimum of services for the benefit of a select few. However, as cities grew larger the patriarchal concern for the urban poor took greater precedence, paving the way for more inclusive politics. There were two important shifts: First, the old methods of organizing urban services in the form of civic duties were challenged and eventually abandoned. Second, politicians came to argue for the creation of new public services to cater for an expanded urban community, which also included workers and women. During the latter phase, political contestation played a pivotal role as the city boards became increasingly aware of – and also dependent on – public opinion. The relation between popular movements and elite adaptation is thus important for explaining the shift from economic prudence to social commitment.
We focus on political debates in the Stockholm city council, addressing sanitation, public transport and telecommunication services. We will also make comparisons with similar discussions in other Nordic capital cities. From this, we argue that changes in political discourse was a crucial component in the formation of modern welfare cities.
The Welfare States and the Expansion of Regional Recreation Areas. The Danish Capital Metropolis in the Mid- and Post-war Period
Henning Bro (Fredriksberg City Archive)
Welfare State, City Regions, Recreational Areas
Throughout the mid-and post-war period, the culture and leisure sector became one of the pillars of the emerging Danish welfare state. Besides the large state cultural institutions, the sector's increasing number of offers resulted in local government transactions. This was also the case in the capital metropolis, but here some of the leisure and cultural offerings had such an extent that they had to be provided most regionally. It was the case of the creation of gigantic recreational areas for the outdoor life for the great metropolitan population.
The conference paper will shed light on the political-ideological background for the welfare state's extensive expansions of regional recreational areas, the barriers imposed by the increasing urbanization in the Danish capital metropolis in the mid-and post-war period, and the dispositions that state and municipalities implemented during the period to create framework conditions for outdoor life for the capital metropolitan's broad population. Provisions that became an integrated part of the regional planning of the capital metropolis and resulted in: Extensive green wedges between the inner capital metropolis radial suburbs, transverse green ties between these, artificially landscaped forests and beach parks as well as vast recreational areas in North Zealand.
The Politics of Building New Schools in the Irish City: Religion, Health, and Welfare in Galway, c. 1940-60
Richard Butler (Mary Immaculate College)
Welfare State, Urban Infrastructures, Religion
This paper concerns ideologies of welfare provision and the common good in twentieth-century Ireland. It focuses on a dispute between secular urban elites (municipal officials, medical doctors, town planners) and a Roman Catholic bishop concerning the building of a new school for young boys in the western city of Galway in the 1940s and 1950s. While Irish secular officials learned from and sought to adopt new British ideas about education psychology and school design, the local Catholic bishop resisted what he saw as interference in church-provided education. The existing Irish literature stresses the hegemony power of the Catholic Church in mid-twentieth-century Ireland, where over 95% of the population were practicing Catholics. Unlike much of Western Europe, church attendance rates remained exceptionally high until the 1980s, and the Church continued to control (and continues to control) many key ‘public’ services such as education, thus providing a key counterpoint for existing studies of European welfare provision that stress an earlier shift from liberal to municipal or state control. By analysing this dispute concerning education provision as an example of contested welfares and public infrastructures, the paper will show that there were in fact major points of dispute between sacred and secular leaders in post-war Irish cities during this period of supposed hegemony, each vying for control in ways that bring into focus the particularities of religion, welfare, and urban modernity. Building on empirical research in church, state, and city archives in Ireland, this paper presents this case-study as an example of conflict between liberal, religious and welfare concepts of delivering public infrastructure for the common good.