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Browsing by Author "Saarinen, Eemi"

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  • Saarinen, Eemi (2022)
    This Master’s thesis addresses perceived insecurity in socio-economically segregated districts in Helsinki surrounding metro stations. Helsinki has long been in a cycle of segregation, and news of street violence and youth gangs have caused concern. This thesis focuses on perceived insecurity, which can be caused by many factors, including physical environment and presence of other people. Segregation is a phenomenon with several causes and consequences. Segregation has often thought to be a delayed, regional consequence of economic inequality in society. Segregation can also be driven by the negative spiral in neighborhoods and the associated relocations of affluent population. In Helsinki, segregation is moderate compared to the global scale, but several studies have shown that disadvantage is localized in the eastern parts of Helsinki. Perceived insecurity is a holistic experience involving cognitive functions and risk theories. Insecurity can be experienced, for example, in terms of the characteristics of the physical environment: open spaces without social control or crowded spaces which obstruct escape routes can cause insecurity. In addition, individual factors, other people’s behavior in the space, and surveillance can affect perceived insecurity. The thesis has two research questions. In the first research question, the issues causing perceived insecurity in Lauttasaari, Herttoniemi and Mellunkylä are investigated. The reason for the selection of these districts as target areas is socio-economic diversity and proximity of metro stations, which may have an impact on perceived insecurity. The results of a security survey conducted in Helsinki serve as data related to insecurity. The second research question examines how urban planning and the characteristics of the built environment affect insecurity in the target areas. The data used for this research question are planning documents and photographs taken in the target areas. The results show large regional differences in perceived insecurity. Lauttasaari is perceived as the safest area and Mellunkylä as the least safe area, with Herttoniemi in between. In Lauttasaari, the main concerns are reduction of green areas and traffic behavior. In Herttoniemi, social problems are significantly more of a concern than in Lauttasaari. In Mellunkylä, many are concerned about, for example, intercultural conflicts, street violence and youth gangs. The different responses of the target areas may be explained by the socio-economic differences between the areas. Based on the planning documents, the aim is to improve especially the status of Mellunkylä: The aim is to create a new center in the area surrounding Mellunmäki metro station. Mellunkylä is also involved in the urban renewal project within the housing & land use implementation program concucted by the city of Helsinki. Actions targeting socio-economically weaker regions may reduce segregation and the associated regional disparities in perceived insecurity. According to the results of the photography tour, elements of the physical environment causing insecurity were found in almost all the metro station surroundings. Such elements include, for example, narrow underpasses, blocks without round-the-clock use and signs of vandalism. Helsinki is perceived as a fairly safe city, but regional differences are considerable. Measures to prevent segregation and the resulting insecurity must be aimed at preventing socio-economic disparities at the macro level by closing income disparities and raising the profile of deprived neighborhoods. At the micro level, insecurity can be prevented by improving the quality of the built environment where it is weak. However, the causes and consequences of segregation and insecurity are complex and actions need to be tailored to the local context.