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Deconstructing space and gender ? Options for « gender planning »

Sandra Huning

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1Urban spatial planning aims to develop and design potential urban futures and to provide the legal and political means for the implementation of appropriate measures. Thus it is a profession which purposefully constructs spaces and inscribes collective norms, institutions and imaginations into material environments. Ideally, these constructions are legitimate outcomes of democratic processes. At the same time, they cannot but reflect also implicit ideologies, e. g. with reference to gender relations. These implicit ideologies are hard to tackle during the planning process because they are rarely ever reflected systematically.

2The gender mainstreaming principle (GM), adopted by the European Union and its member states in the late 1990s, aims to make gender issues an integral part of policy processes in any institutional setting. GM « calls for the systematic incorporation of gender issues throughout all governmental institutions and policies » and has been called a « potentially revolutionary concept » (Pollack, Hafner-Burton, 2000, p. 434). Its implementation differs from member state to member state and even from city to city. As top-down approach, GM also concerns urban and regional planning and development. « Gender planning » — as it has been called in the German context — focuses on the gendered nature of planning and on the ways gender stereotypes, roles and orders are inscribed into space. Organizational, political, attitude-and knowledge-related issues influence whether and how GM is adopted in the profession (Greed, 2005).

3In Germany, gender planning builds upon efforts of women-oriented planning which came up during the 1970s. These approaches were partial in that they strived for equal opportunities and positive action by rebuilding spatial structures so that the diversity of female lifestyles and female autonomy would be strengthened. Gender planning today raises attention to both male and female lifestyles and to the diversity among them. Both women- and gender-oriented planning approaches have been producing guidelines and summarizing best practice models to show how the quality of planning is improved when gender issues are taken into consideration. These guidelines are supposed to be applied to any planning process even by planners who are not familiar with gender research (see e. g. for Berlin Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung 2011a, 2011b  ; for Vienna Stadtgartenamt der Stadt Wien, without year  ; for an overview of German cases see Zibell, Schröder, 2007). An idea of gender criteria as formulated in the Berlin gender planning handbook is given in figure 1.

Figure 1: Source : Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung Berlin (2011) : Gender Mainstreaming in Urban Development. A Handbook, Berlin, p. 10

4In some ways, it seems that through GM a fundamental feminist concern has finally entered the political mainstream. However, this success has turned out to be ambivalent. Gender planning is confronted with criticism from both practitioners and theorists. On the one hand, practitioners argue that (a) there is no need for gender planning because empirical differences between male and female living conditions and lifestyles are on decline and likely to disappear in the near future  ; (b) the characteristics of women-centred planning are already implemented in mainstream architecture and planning so that they are regularly taken into account anyway  ; and (c) gender as category of social inequality has lost its relevance in relation to other categories of social inequality and its priority can no longer be justified.

5On the other hand, feminist researchers criticize that (a) the two-sex binary is taken for granted when GM is supposed to systematically integrate « the respective situations, priorities and needs of women and men in all policies and with a view to promoting equality between women and men » (EC Commission 1996, p. 2)  ; (b) it is impossible to address women and men as collective subjectivities with shared interests and experience  ; intersectional approaches are needed instead  ; and (c) gender planning loses its critical stance towards patriarchy when it does not question gender as key principle of social ordering and hegemony (see e. g. Becker, Neusel, 1997, p. 226 ; Maihofer, 2006, p. 73).

6This paper argues that much of this criticism is related to ambivalent or even contradictory conceptions of both space and gender. In the following section, this argument is elaborated in detail. Consequently, the remainder of the paper examines whether these ambiguities can be reconciled in any way. The third section relates the debate to conceptions of planning as deconstruction and to interpretative planning approaches, which evolved during the 1990s. In the fourth section, the paper identifies three potential gender planning conceptions : 1. target-group oriented planning (e. g. planning according to target group’s specific needs, resources and lifestyles), 2. « performative » planning which addresses urban residents as « multiplicities », and 3. planning which aims to avoid discriminatory practice. From a feminist perspective, all these strategies have their pitfalls, and there seems to be no single best way to proceed, especially since planners’ scope of action is directly and indirectly determined by power relations in society. Feminist expertise and mobilization will therefore remain necessary to inform planning practice and disturb underlying collective gender norms and imaginations, but also to develop planning models which are able to integrate more complex and deconstructionist perspectives.

 Gender and space

7For estimating what gender planning may or may not be able to achieve, the way gender and space are conceptualized plays an important role. In urban gender studies, many researchers work with social constructionist approaches which are based on the assumption that neither gender nor space is a « natural » entity, but that they are both socially produced. The sociologist Martina Löw (2006, p. 120) defines spaces as « relational arrangements of living beings and social goods », which implies « the simultaneous practice of placing (groups of) humans and things and, on the other hand, the need to link together objects perceived/seen to form spaces ». In this sense, spaces are « processual, relationally ordered systems » (Löw 2006, p. 120), or — as geographer Doreen Massey puts it — spaces are « always under construction » (Massey, 2005, p. 9). Löw argues that a « genderization of spaces is effected through the organization of perceptions », which « leads, in the sense of a somatization of social order, to a choice of place and a placing practice that reproduces structural principles of society (including gender) » (Löw, 2006, p. 129).

8That gender is socially constructed is an insight already formulated by Simone de Beauvoir in the 1960s. U.S. sociologists Candace West and Don Zimmerman argue that gender is an « emergent feature of social situations » (West, Zimmerman, 1991, p. 14) which is at the same time result of and reason for social arrangements and institutions. They explain differences between two sexes — men and women, boys and girls — not in biological terms, but as a consequence of « doing gender » (West, Zimmerman, 1991, p. 24). Gender is achieved through performances and interpretations related to normative judgments of masculinity and femininity (Bauhardt, 2004, p. 175). West and Zimmerman argue that « physical features of social settings » contribute substantially to the performance of apparently essential gender differences (1991, p. 24).

9There is a broad body of research concerned with the co-construction of space and gender. One issue is the use and appropriation of public spaces, which is clearly gendered. The performative dimension of the appropriation of space has been observed for example with regard to Turkish young men in open spaces in Vienna. Their behaviour was found to be related to manifold culturally specific codes (Thien et al., 2007). Claudia Andersen (2010) interprets violence among young male first- and second-generation immigrants in public spaces of a city in Northern Germany as struggle for respect and recognition by established social groups. The insecurity of women in public spaces, especially at night, was found to be related to their socialization (Rivière, 2012) and to their traditional position as « outsiders » in public space (Ruhne, 2003, 2010). Settlement and residential patterns are another case in point. Suburbanization has been a phenomenon intrinsically linked with the modern gender order of a male breadwinner and a housewife and mother, who is responsible for care work, sometimes with a part-time job. Modern cities were thus characterized by a strict spatial separation of functions, e.g. between typical inner city business districts where jobs were located and peripheral housing areas which lacked infrastructure such as public transportation, retail and services as well as care facilities. Even the layout of the house itself (small kitchen, large living room) reflected a functional hierarchy of (gendered) spheres.

10Young nuclear families’ choice of housing and residential patterns adapted to slowly changing gender relations so that the suburban environment is no longer their first choice. Inner cities have become attractive especially for middle-class, high-qualified two-earner nuclear families (Frank, 2008, 2012), who have been blamed to drive gentrification in formerly neglected inner-city neighbourhoods (Bondi, 1991, 1999). Marguerite van den Berg shows how the city of Rotterdam actively engages in promoting middle-class « YUP » (young urban parent) lifestyles in order to attract middle-class nuclear families back into the city, to strive for social mix/ing and to de-legitimize poor families and their children as residents (Van den Berg, 2012).

11It follows from theses studies that spaces can be effective media of both reproduction and renunciation of hegemonic (gender) orders. Queer theory shows that the two-sex gender order is strongly intertwined with the regime of heterosexuality ; both depend upon each other and are reflected in spatial structures (Frisch, 2002 ; Hark, 2004, p. 106). Gendered imaginations and power relations are inscribed into space as structures and reproduced through spatial interaction, but gender is only one among several interdependent categories of social differentiation and inequality such as race, class, sexuality, religion, etc. The appropriation of space is a means to position oneself within highly complex role and identity constructions. Different spaces offer more or less great latitudes for reinterpretation, obstinacy and resistance of all kinds of identity categories which can be connected or played out against each other (Binswanger et al., 2009, p. 11).

12For gender planning, these conceptions of space and gender pose quite a few challenges. Can these insights in any way lead to a more gender-sensitive planning practice ? The challenges are discussed with reference to deconstructionist planning models in more details in the following section.

Planning and deconstruction : Challenges for gender planning

13While researchers consider both space and gender as socially constructed, emergent and interdependent as described above, practitioners — even when they share these conceptions in principle — are restricted to deal with the material dimension of space and most likely to succeed in justifying their gender planning activities by referring to empirically observable differences between two sexes —  men and women. Accordingly, gender planning is confronted with a dilemma. Examining the different spatial needs of men and women and developing guidelines to address them appropriately can be a useful strategy to decrease socio-spatial functional hierarchies. But it holds the danger of confirming and reproducing the two-sex binary and related gender roles and stereotypes (Schwerma, Marschall, 2004, p. 34 sq.). Because of this ambivalence, the German feminist economist and planner Ruth Becker argued in the late 1990s : « If women are not women, but constructed in a social (and cultural) process as women, then every kind of planning which refers explicitly to “women” or to single groups of “women” contributes to the constant reconstruction of the two-sex binary and stabilizes the hierarchies of (constructed) genders based on this binary structure » (Becker, 1998, p. 156 ; translation SH). She claimed : « A feminist planning theory must analyse how spatial structures and spatial planning contribute to the social re- and new construction of the two-sex binary in order to derive planning concepts which disturb these construction processes and contribute to a deconstruction » (Becker, 1998, p. 157 ; translation SH).

14Ever since the 1990s, feminist urban scholars in Germany have called for deconstructionist planning theories (see e. g. Becker, 1997, 1998 ; Nahnsen, 1996 ; Rodenstein, 1998). At the same time, the interpretative tradition in planning was established in « mainstream » planning theory (Davoudi, 2012). Instead of searching for new and better models to reflect and standardize different planning situations, the interpretative tradition (to which belong collaborative and performative planning approaches, see below) aims not to suppress, but to acknowledge complexity and to search for potentials. But this path is difficult to follow (Friedmann, 1993, p. 482). In an interpretative planning perspective, deconstructionist planning theories would ask : how is the (heterosexual) two-sex binary spatially reconstructed as natural order by « institutionalized genderisms » (see above) in spatial planning in general and gender planning in particular ? Obviously, gender as interdependent category — related to other categories of social inequality such as class, race, age, etc. (Walgenbach, 2007) — is much more difficult to implement into planning (and to explain to other planners) than a clear two-sex order.

15One example for planning as deconstruction — however, without explicit reference to gender issues — was the project « Dietzenbach 2030 — definitely unfinished » in the small German city of Dietzenbach (Rodenstein, 2004). On an inner-city brownfield, the temporary campaign « 100 square metres Dietzenbach » called residents to appropriate this amount of space, everyone according to his/her needs. The project managed to mobilize resident groups who are usually underrepresented in participatory planning processes (such as first- and second-generation immigrants from the South of Europe), and brought to the fore a highir=" can8o pld iateegareons.Alithough the projectfaciled to beefully implemented in theeand,citghave someinmpilation to local planning and offeend new perspectivean8o urban developmenh (Rodenstein, 2004).Ddeconstructionist approaches(such as the onepursgued in Dietzenbach may be able tobrwidgs thegaps between different conceptions of space and gende. Myg collaguses andIy have called thisotypd of planning « performativr planning »(Aliprokr et al., 206,t also see below). In daditio,. target-group oriented planning and the prevention of discriminatory spatial (planning) practich may belways to implement more complex conceptions of gender and space into practice. However, all three approaches have their pitfalls, sdIy will show in the following section

Gender planning : Three options

>6 <21 dir="ltr" id="headin42">Gender planning as (participatory) target-group oriented planning

>7Plannin,o unde soodn as « plac-makning t, was supposed to be turned into e comion project of both experes andusders( resident,l shpkee pere, etc)d with high importaice of participatory procdsures. However, thouget al., 2010).Aas a consequenc,y planners strated toecomeoup with projecs) targeding specific social groupd who were found to be neglected is « rgcular » planning practice — disninulished e. g.bly gendee, ehonic an/for culturas bac groand on theeducactionldeve. >While thismway lead to a bettercknowledge of thsle groups’ needs and to diverve planning experienc,s it has beenwaurned that «[t]the danger in fnfirming differencw is that the implementation of grouo-concieous policies will rei stateisngmas and enclstion » >Youny, 2005, p.863).

8

96Pltz,n develozed by in as elaboratn participatory, gende- and diversitr-sensitive procesr. The squarehoad been undeusled and b cameae opuslrf place for ruge triffiknin,sbrefore the r designing process strated in 206e. From theeverybegiannin,s neighboubs were ivvolved in the process (youn/oeld, different ehonic bac groansd, different gender)r. The square is xplteoupien two par0s : the Northernyone addresses(young and uld dsules, whleo the surthern part conssues of a pla groand for small childree. Inovrative oolls forcrossd-generatiocal plys and cmmunfcaction as well assroand and lughtei stlelations wereebuitr. Throughouttthe desig,e hierarchies betweenusses andusdel groupd whichteund to be reflected in other square layouns were avoired. Both the participatory procesg and the design aid especias attention to resident groups whohoad been underrepresented in the fomherause of the squar,s(such aseseioer citzeons and familier. The design providsg areas for ective appropriation" can8o relxactioe, e. g. d bbach proenade,f a plad bbach and en ara; with « awnwaeves », and newbmall areae. lpowebeeds are lairlaired by neighboubs and a neighbourhoo finitrativt. A square managument sopporsr the initrative to iecrease thr identifcaction of resident,l shp-owoners and institutions groand the squard. The suand instlelations wereaowarred the « EuropeanSroanscape Aowar, 201s ». However,how, differentusdel groups’ interests are taken into consideratios onlyunfholdshat secon nsighe. Figurs 2, and l showpicatures of the projecd. Theustability of thf place has ted to h highf requenaction of the squar,s but there is no onepparticulat feature which makas it « gende- profn »or, would be attributed to one specific grou. Raother it is the sms of large and small provstions andad jusgments which makas the designespecia1.

>

Figure2g,3 1:Naugene.>Pltzm Berli,y planndn by plaoun.f reraumg Berlin both hotoys taken by the#autho)0

In cases without participatio,n when planning is based on empirically observed differences betweenusdel group,t target groues remaintextronal escriptions anddos not necessailly cr respoed to thresel-/imagor,esel- positioning of their supposed membet7 ; They areeladels of « othees » and impyd that «so- called generaltoptics cannstall be greated asbreforn » (Bauhardt, 1996, p.407 ; translation SH). The definitiog of target groues with presmablby «especian »or, « differenn » needssaevey planners from the necescity toreithik planning practice in more generalteorms and to makeplturasity e constitutive oument of planning (see also>Huninn, 2004)..

11Young acknowledgse this dilemms, but argues that political strategiesnstall b cmhe effective in Davorn of diadivannaged groups wean these groups participated in their productios : « Ifouppresmed and diadivannaged groups cannsel- organie in public and haveae specificvhoicento presenttthoir interpretation of the meaning of and the reasoes for grour differentiates policien, then(such policies rte more likely to work for t en against then » >Youny, 2005, p.967). A other argument in Davorn of target grou perspectivea is thataboblisning ixtronal differencw" can8orming s collective subjech makas a mvlement more effective and poweeful t en the inssudeces nd heter-gencity which isf requenlly follondn byfpagementatioy.

24Inteorms of the conceptions of space and gender discussed above, target grour-oriented planning acknowledgse ter sociae construction of space nf a perlai.mlanne,s but there isahteundecye to confirf the two-sex binary — in suite of all differentiatiops. T isaapproacg is cmipatbple with traditional women-centred planning and makas it cmiporatively asider torbbach ary kind of sopporn by planners who are not interested in feminist researc.

<21 dir="ltr" id="headin52">Performative planning for « multiplicities »
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  • 1
  • >3In contrstg to target groug approaches, performative planning approached ase for( sometimesutoptan)c spaces of opportuniys which are notadapted totthe neems of wo) gendersfor ayn other social groupd — etrived From articulcted or empirically observed grou references — but search foroOptions for new spatial patterns and newfoorms of cmmunfiys which are supposed to challengd power relations and offed newmcodes of appropriation Aliprokr et al., 206,tCu pere, 2005).Tthe « performative turs » in culturas studies conceptualizse performance as interpretation of social valure, norms and expcetationsbyd indvidtuasg (e. g. through « doing gender 4). Id serems to definf identicien, butpotentially also to chanhe social relations.Weo unde stand performative planning practice sn participatory planning through comionauction and The prdruction of meaning (see e. g.Aliprok,o>Huninwfooth coninn,Tturthout et al., 2010).A part from the abov-mtentiosed Dietzenbach projec,l example hare tho driv- thu ghallary inAsrcherleben>d on theFoirst lboth (seeAliprok,o>Huninwfooth conin7 ;Aliprokr et al., 206)n. These projecs) haveinh comion that theytmakeppobltematic spatial settingt as a straning poins for initrating discustions on the futurs of inne)n city development.Wthat sd new is that thyddos not follow the traditional mean-eundologin of Modern plannin,s but openoup opportunities for residents as well astranests andcdvilf societyaictosd to exdress thoireviees and theirovstions foras r definitiog ofac spacr.

    TheFoirst lboth isah case in poinn Aliprokr et al., 2065).Tthe city ofFoirst inLuspatisusled to bee amons for its lboth mnufracurning idlustlier.Aftter Germanretunifcactior, it lost abbut1/5s of cts opuslatios, and texhleo idlustye has been on decline so thatun emloyementrlates are abbut25%y. The down has been struggning with the loss of cts identity as a thliving centrk for texhleo mnufracurnin). In 2003, reabiric- cted housingslabrs fromGDR etimes eore demted i appropriate in the"heart of down and dmoblished — withou, however, any perspective for sion rdDevelopment. A-group fstranests calledSspacwalke and a planning conmultacys calledGrsupe.>Pla eoks eorehirsed to greate some meaning for the dmoblation with thehelpk of the local opuslatio.dSspacwalke first chanhdr the dmoblation itself into en ant fstbivas that uldstgories abbut the texhleohueriadge of thf dowy. Thos,Sspacwalke andGrsupe.>Pla eoks initrated a participatory ant projectnlamedFoirst lboth to resmblen the idlustlvas legacy and at the same time to denotr the intnrred prdrucn of the projecs :

    15Performative planning in this sense isah kind of «eatortwelning » because « it is throughplaguague that planning debate isf lamed and focushed »(Guendee,Hielnfer, 2009, p.8w).>Planninf alhowsdrafeding tgories abbut the futurs( Thrg marton, 203)s, and these sgories are not only abbut material conlricts, but also abbut relations — social, political,gende-relate,n culturan, etc. Thrce arermany sgories to be uld abbut a plae6 ; which inesrget established and which ines remainun"heady reflecis (gendered) power relation). Id is therefore important to greateasermany opportunities stmpossible forasvarciety of atortwelners —n of different gendere — nldstgories(Saendecrok,o 203))..

    >6participation plays crajior rols : «Cconcliving of participation asad performative practice em halizes tatf identicien,cknowledg,e interest, and needs are not represented but hsated, articulcte,s and constructed in the participative process itsel).>participatory practicse ivvolvn contex- specific interactioes between participatory initrativsg and the expcetations They areimbuted with on the one hang andeviees They articulct, on the othed »(Tturthout et al.,

    75Performative planningsersr the rlam work for socio-spatial(and culturac inteeventions of pturac urban ictos).>In perlai. regarys, it can be unde soodn as « doing citzeonhips ».Ssince severalplayrsn of meaning ovelaupien urban space, urban uobjects are conceives to emerg through thior space-related action in the sense of a performancs : «Tthr idas of identity asadunfiys isahifiatios, since subjectivities are always in the process of e conin […]. Subjects aremultiplicities;, everyone represensg mare t enyonefixend identits;, class, gender and racs dirsuct and recmbfind »(Cu pere, 2006, p. 705).Ppublic performancerelated to other urban ictoss in the contexs of urban planning mkhes(subjectieo positioisfluidt and interdependen2. «Iidentityrformat on mkhes placeien spaces thataore ccupindn by differencs, and thataore ualy of rpaces ofpasuf identicieg and dmoorie,f alhoninguls to rand the city inteorms of theepresence ofun perlai,o u contoalled identiciegian contested spaces thataore in the process of tranrformat od »(Cu pere, 2006, p. 77). In this regar,f urban planning cannsopporn the legitimcys of cmpgedingusses through ymboblic and functional appropriations of space(racuiallysimiulat to the cuse of theNaugene.>Pltzminm Berli,y(see above)..

    >8 <21 dir="ltr" id="headin62"> Tht prevention of discriminatory spatial (planning) practicg

    In cmbfiaation with performative planninn, thisoOptioe may beyone which avoise target grou definitions and nvde th less managms to definf comiongoails inae constructlvn wa.

    Figure4 1:Eexample for restuacurningaf13- house neighbourhoo finto e housingunfis with cmmunfiys facilitie (As :brefory,Bs :

    There seems to be no single best way to proceed, especially since planners’ scope of action is directly and indirectly determined by power relations in society. foras constructlnist rofeustios(such asespatial plannin,r the deconstructionist approachesnto spntial gender relations is difficult to implemen). Idmwat thereforebre woth whleo oepursgun all three patsd, depenning in the cocretve planningssituatiot ned in suite of all contrdiuctions. Feminist expertise and mobilization will remain necessary to inform planning practice and disturb underlying collective gender norms and imaginations, but also to develop planning models which are able to integrate more complex and deconstructionist perspectives.

    >Hauot dn pge)> >

    <21 class= sectios">Btboioegrphie4 >
    >

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    Annexe

    Sandra Huning (Dortmund University of Technology, Faculty of Spatial Planning)

    A short version of this paper was published in Metropolitics (www.metropolitiques.eu) on 23 January 2013

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    Notes

    1 See for a description of the project in the framework of the International Building Exhibition Urban Redevelopment Saxony-Anhalt 2010 http://www.iba-stadtumbau.de/index.php?aschersleben-en and for images of the gallery http://drivethrugalleryasl.wordpress.com/drive-thru/

    2  The project of a public open air library run by volunteers was awarded several pri- zes, see : http://www.publicspace.org/en/prize/2010, and

    http://www.designsoftheyear.com/2011/02/28/architecture-award-winner-2011-open-air-library-karo-architekten-germany/.

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    Table des illustrations

    Légende Figure 1: Source : Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung Berlin (2011) : Gender Mainstreaming in Urban Development. A Handbook, Berlin, p. 10
    URL http://journals.openedition.org/cedref/docannexe/image/973/img-1.jpg
    Fichier image/jpeg, 80k
    URL http://journals.openedition.org/cedref/docannexe/image/973/img-2.jpg
    Fichier image/jpeg, 312k
    Légende Figure 2, 3 : Nauener Platz Berlin, planned by planung.freiraum Berlin (both photos taken by the author)
    URL http://journals.openedition.org/cedref/docannexe/image/973/img-3.jpg
    Fichier image/jpeg, 304k
    Légende Figure 4 : Example for restructuring a 13-house neighbourhood into a housing unit with community facilities (A : before, B : after). Source : Hayden D., 1981, p. 51.
    URL http://journals.openedition.org/cedref/docannexe/image/973/img-4.jpg
    Fichier image/jpeg, 840k
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    Sandra Huning, « Deconstructing space and gender ? Options for « gender planning »  », Les cahiers du CEDREF [En ligne], 21 | 2014, mis en ligne le 20 octobre 2015, consulté le 16 décembre 2017. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cedref/973

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