Making a Scene

Urban Landscapes, Gentrification, and Social Movements in Sweden

Kimberly A. Creasap
Book Cover

PB: $27.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2088-6
Publication: Dec 21

HC: $74.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-2087-9
Publication: Dec 21

Ebook: $27.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2089-3
Publication: Dec 21

202 pages
5.5 x 8.25
16 halftones, 4 maps

Examines how autonomous social movements respond to gentrification by creating their own cultural landscape in cities and suburbs

Read the Introduction (pdf).


In the three largest cities in Sweden, social movement “scenes”—networks of social movement actors and the places they inhabit—challenge threats such as gentrification. The geography of the built environment influences their ability to lay claim to urban space and to local political processes. In Making a Scene, Kimberly Creasap emphasizes that it is the centrality, concentration, and visibility of these scenes that make them most effective. Whereas some scenes become embedded as part of everyday life—as in Malmö —in contrast, scenes in Göteborg and Stockholm often fail to become part of the fabric of urban neighborhoods.

Creasap investigates key spaces for scenes, from abandoned industrial areas and punk clubs to street festivals, bookstores, and social centers, to show how activists create sites and develop structures of resistance that are anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, anti-gentrification, queer, and feminist. She also charts the relationship between scenes and city spaces to show these autonomous social movements create their own cultural landscapes. Making a Scene encourages critical thinking about spatiality and place in the sociology of social movements and the role of social movements as important actors in urban development.


“Beginning with a charming portrait of one small Swedish neighborhood, Kimberly Creasap demonstrates the power of the concept of a social movement ‘scene,’ a concentrated network of activists and the places they congregate. Scenes are not just a resource for politics; they are an accomplishment in their own right. Who really owns a city? And how?”
James M. Jasper, author of The Art of Moral Protest : Culture, Biography, and Creativity in Social Movements

“A must-read on autonomous social movements resisting gentrification in Swedish cities that draws on a conceptual apparatus made up of centrality, concentration, and visibility. Making a Scene is rich in contextual detail, description, and, critically, a sense of hope for activists everywhere. Creasap puts the spatial into the social of social movement research and contributes to the rapidly growing literature on resistance in gentrification studies.”
—Loretta Lees, Incoming Director of the Initiative on Cities at Boston University, and coauthor of Gentrification and Planetary Gentrification

"Creasap offers the reader ethnographic glimpses and comparisons of the local social movement scenes in Sweden’s three major cities of Stockholm, Göteborg, and Malmö.... (Her) main argument serves as an important contribution to the scholarship on social movement scenes. This book also presents an important call for thinking more critically about spatiality in the sociology of social movements more generally."
Social Forces

“Creasap examines an important issue in the social movement literature—the centrality of place for the rise and fall of social movements. Introducing the concept of social movement scenes, she theorizes their importance and the interplay between these scenes and the political economies of their cities. Moreover, Making a Scene engages in an interesting discussion of how gentrification contributes to both sharpening the grievances of urban activists and destroying the environment they need to survive and thrive."
Walter J. Nicholls, Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Immigrant Rights Movement: The Battle over National Citizenship

Table of Contents


1. Introduction
2. Uniquely Swedish: From Social Democracy to Autonomy
3. Social Centers: Where Past, Present, and Future Meet
4. City Solidarity: The Right to the City in Malmö
5. Where Is the Movement? The Spatiality of Social Movement Scenes
6. The Future of Place-Based Movements

Appendix: Methods and Access

About the Author(s)

Kimberly A. Creasap is a sociologist and Director of the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement at Wittenberg University.