Will the Citizen of a Large Housing Estate Please Stand Up!

Authors: Johanna Holvandus*,
Topics: Urban Geography, East Europe, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: citizen participation, urban governance, post-socialist city, Estonia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon A1, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Citizen participation in urban governance and spatial planning has been a topic of academic discussion in various forms for many decades. In western societies governance networks are quite developed already, whereas post-socialist societies often tell a different story.
As a result of Soviet regime’s migration policies, Estonia harbors a dual-ethnic society with Estonian majority and Russian-speaking minority. In addition, the past 25 years have shown spatial segregation with Estonians preferring to dwell in low-rise housing, whereas Russian-speakers tend to live in large housing estates.
Concerning civil activism, my previous research has demonstrated that certain urban areas are more fruitful than others regarding the mushrooming of civil initiatives that engage in governance networks. For example, neighborhood associations are present in low-rise housing areas, but not in large housing estates.
In this study I aim to clarify two questions. First, what civil activism can be found in large housing estates? Second, what policy interventions are useful to attract large housing estates’ dwellers to participate in urban governance networks?
The case study is Annelinn, a panel housing estate in Tartu, Estonia, which houses about 25 000 people. Research was carried out with qualitative interview method and followed the principles of directed content analysis. The results show that in general large housing estate residents are not less active per se, but their activism is tied more to cultural activities rather than taking part in discussions pertaining to societal or living environment issues.

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