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Narratives of Crisis: How Framing Urban Shrinkage and Depopulation Shapes Policy and Planning Responses in Spain, Germany and The Netherlands

Bozhidar Ivanov ()
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Bozhidar Ivanov: Department International Planning Systems, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, 67663 Kaiserslautern, Germany

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 19, 1-23

Abstract: Academic research on urban shrinkage and depopulation has advanced significantly in recent years, mostly by attributing causality between the reasons and consequences of shrinkage in the positivist tradition of planning research. This paper critically analyzes shrinkage and depopulation as an issue of planning and policymaking in a broader institutional context. By applying a qualitative interpretive policy analysis methodology to planning and policy narratives from Spain, Germany and The Netherlands, this article highlights and scrutinizes how policymakers and planners have framed shrinkage, and how this framing has justified some of the selected planning and policy approaches. It is concluded that framing shrinkage in practice may only partially encompass the scientific definitions. It is also concluded that framing shrinkage and depopulation as a crisis may be determined by locally and temporally important issues as well as differences in planning cultures, which in practice may distance the understanding of the phenomenon from the scientific definitions. Debates on shrinkage conceptualization and the development of new planning concepts can become more applicable in practice by incorporating insights from qualitative investigations. This can bring them closer to planning practice and embed them in a wider planning system context, so as to produce more applicable and contextually sensitive proposals for addressing shrinkage.

Keywords: urban shrinkage; shrinking cities; urban planning; urban policy; planning systems; planning cultures; interpretive policy analysis; comparative urban research (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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