Striving for normality: Agency, citizen participation and intergroup belonging on the urban periphery of Helsinki
This article examines how the inhabitants of a culturally diverse suburban estate in Finland strive for meaningful encounters in their lives. The focus is on Kontula, a residential working-class district on the eastern periphery of Helsinki, which has become a powerful symbol of the ills of contemporary urbanity—poverty and social problems, as well as rootlessness and the failed integration of the immigrant populations—in the vernacular geography and media representations of the city. The article examines how everyday mobility in an increasingly segregated city is related to a range of qualities of sociocultural encounters, both within the immediate neighbourhood and across other urban areas. The article also argues that for many marginalised inhabitants, agency predominantly emphasises striving for normality, not a challenge to the system.