Politics & Political Theory

“The People’s Park is bigger, more freely located, more beautiful and – Our own park”: Workers, parks, and the spaces of class struggle in turn of the century Norrköping, Sweden

Engaging with scholarship on hegemony, park history, and in particular with Sevilla-Buitrago’s analysis of Central Park as a pedagogical space, this article traces the establishment of two parks in the Swedish textile industry centre of Norrköping. These parks, bearing very similar names – Folkparken and Folkets Park – were established just six years apart. But though both parks linked “park” and “people” (Folk), their intended political effects were radically different. The 1895 Folkparken was an elite attempt to create a de-politicised landscape park, while the 1901 Folkets Park was instead the labour movement’s attempt to create their own space. Exploring this latter park enables telling a story of park production beyond elite dominance. Like dozens of similar labour-controlled parks across Sweden, the People’s Park allowed Norrköping’s labour movement to shape their landscape long before the Social Democrats made any significant inroads into parliamentary politics. Combining a platform for socialistic agitation, with a theatre and space for recreation, this park quickly became central to Norrköping’s working class. Thereby, it could both enable social-democratic presence at an everyday level, and function as an important resource during periods of intense class-struggle.

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Volume 40 Issue 6

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