Thesis defence in the University of Oulu

Doctoral Candidate

Master of Social Sciences Jonne Hytönen

Faculty and research unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Science, Geography Research Unit

Field of study


Date and time of the thesis defence

8.11.2019 12:00

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa, sali IT116

Topic of the dissertation

Limits of localism: Institutional perspectives on communicativeness, neoliberalization and sustainability in Finnish spatial planning


Professor Jouni Häkli, Tampere University


Professor Toni Ahlqvist, University of Turku

Conditions of sustainable planning: A view on transforming relationship between market actors and public regulation in Finland

According to this doctoral thesis an increase in municipal planning powers has changed the priorities of spatial planning in Finland. Not all municipalities have the same abilities for sustainable planning.

In his thesis, planning scholar Jonne Hytönen has analyzed the transformation of Finnish planning from planning-theory and state-theory viewpoints. According to Hytönen, long standing increases in municipal discretionary power in planning has changed the relationship between public regulation and market actors. Increasingly, enhancing competitiveness of municipalities and city-regions has become a key target of planning.

The thesis describes how welfarist spatial planning with an aim to continuity and regulation of growth has shifted to localist land use planning practice. Making planning processes fluent, facilitative and more flexible has been defined as an important goal regarding planning. Legitimacy of planning is sought after from communication with local stakeholders, as recommended by many international theorists.

The thesis argues that increasing local discretion in planning is not without problems. Enhancing competitiveness of municipalities predisposes to facilitation of development projects in a problematic way. Following the principles of sustainable planning might become more difficult with increasing public austerity, which needs to be considered when making amendments to the juridical framework of planning.

In addition, the thesis concludes that communicative planning practices in local contexts alone does not ensure that outcomes of planning processes would turn out to be sustainable or democratic. Collective societal and environmental concerns should be integrated into future planning agendas, while mediating between particular interests in local contexts.

Last updated: 1.11.2019