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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

The patchwork planning of a welfare landscape: reappraising the role of leisure planning in the Swedish welfare state

Pries, Johan; Qvistrom, Mattias


The public memory of the social democratic welfare state in Sweden often emphasizes housing, but in fact post-war planning was far more diverse. One asset which postwar planning developed over time was a landscape that materialized a range of different concerns over welfare. Even today, the impressive investments in recreational facilities and green spaces made during the high point of welfarist planning in Sweden still provides the backbone of Sweden's recreational infrastructure and areas for outdoor leisure and play. This paper highlights 'leisure planning' as a forgotten aspect of the postwar decades, and argues that the relationship between urban planning and leisure planning speaks to the patchwork character of the welfare landscape and explains why it remains elusive or even invisible in the current debate. We illustrate the making of welfare landscapes by analyzing developments in Upplands Vasby municipality, focusing on the complex interplay between leisure planning and urban planning from the 1950s to the 1980s.


The welfare state; social planning; leisure planning; urban planning; landscape planning; landscape; public space; green space; Sweden; social democracy

Published in

Planning Perspectives
2021, Volume: 36, number: 5, pages: 923-948

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
      SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Landscape Architecture

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)