Countering Spatial Alienation: Social Work in a Stigmatised Neighbourhood in Copenhagen, Denmark

Christian Sandbjerg Hansen

Abstract

Like so many other cities around the world, the process of advanced marginality has transformed Copenhagen (Denmark). This has involved a stigmatisation of certain areas of the city in which “problem categories” among the population are concentrated. In Copenhagen, an answer to this territorial stigmatisation, spatial alienation and dissolution of place has been area-based interventions and urban renewal projects. These projects have not just focused on improving the physical environment, but also on the people living there and their relations with each other and with the neighbourhood. Thus, alongside the development of universal pedagogical institutions, these projects intimately intertwine with groups of different social work agencies, forming a veritable pedagogisation of urban marginality. In this article, I look into interviews with social workers from the infamous northwestern territory in Copenhagen, and I discuss aspects of spatial alienation and (de)commodification inherent in the interrelations of stigmatised places and social pedagogical interventions.

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