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Good for meeting friends, eating and living: what Gothenburgers think of Gothenburg

The vast majority of Gothenburg residents would recommend moving to the city and believe it is a good place, according to a new study.

Good for meeting friends, eating and living: what Gothenburgers think of Gothenburg
Central Gothenburg. Photo: Ellen Andersson/TT

The insight comes from a new study of Gothenburg residents by Gothenburg University's SOM Institute. In the autumn of 2016 it asked 7,000 people aged between 16 and 85 who were registered as living in Gothenburg a number of questions about their city – to which 3,463 replied.

Residents of Sweden's second city seem to generally be positive about it. Asked if they would recommend someone else move to Gothenburg, 75 percent said yes and only six said no (the rest did not know). Ninety-three percent meanwhile said they were happy with the place they currently live.

“Where you live in the city doesn't seem to impact how happy you are with Gothenburg,” SOM Institute political scientist Maria Solevid observed in a statement.

The study also looked at the image residents have of Gothenburg, asking them to take a position on a number of statements about the city: 96 percent agreed it has many good restaurants, 94 that it is a good city to live in, 93 that it has many places to meet friends, 91 that it has rich culture, 86 that it is somewhere to be proud of, and 83 that it has a good reputation internationally.

“How residents judge their city is an explicit indication of the city's appeal. Previous research has shown how a number of different aspects like salary levels, employment, housing quality, access to public services, culture, the environment, parks and recreation, safety, public transport, restaurants and nightlife all impact how content citizens are with their city,” the study explained.

READ ALSO: Gothenburg the world's 'most sociable city', study shows

The statement that the lowest number of people agreed with was that Gothenburg is a “safe and secure city” – 52 percent said that was true. Agreement varied on a regional level, and was lowest in the areas Torslanda (31), Kärrdalen/Slättadamm (33) and Kortedala (46), while most agreed in Södra Centrum (59), Stigbergstorget (65) and Bergsjön (68).

Gothenburgers have different concerns about societal issues compared to Swedes in general according to the research, which contrasted the answers with a pan-Swedish study from the same time period.

Asked which issues are most important to them, 25 percent opted for law and order (12 in Sweden in general), 22 percent infrastructure (two) and 18 percent housing (six). The most important issue was integration/immigration with 32 percent, but it was markedly lower than the Swedish average (45 percent).

“It's clear that crime, infrastructure and housing are very central issues in Gothenburg compared with Sweden overall. That's likely linked to incidents and situations in the city, and it will be interesting to see if and how it changes over time,” Solevid said.

Like Stockholm, Sweden's second city is grappling with a housing crisis, while problems with gangs in some suburbs have made international headlines in recent years. In 2016 an eight-year-old boy from Birmingham was killed when a hand grenade was thrown into a Biskopsgården apartment in what a criminology professor told The Local is part of a long-standing 'cycle of violence' in the area.

READ ALSO: More on Gothenburg's 'cycle of violence'

CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

READ ALSO: 

More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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