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Spatializing ‘Just City Planning’: an evaluation of citywide planning policies in relation to ghettoization and gentrification


Dlabac, Oliver; Zwicky, Roman; Hoole, Charlotte; Chu, Eric; Lee, Peter (2019). Spatializing ‘Just City Planning’: an evaluation of citywide planning policies in relation to ghettoization and gentrification. In: City Futures IV Conference (EURA/UAA), Dublin, 20 June 2019 - 22 June 2019.

Abstract

In The Just City, Fainstein (2010) proposes principles for directing and evaluating urban planning with regard to the ‘just city’. Equity and a fair distribution of costs and benefits from public policy are central to her concept of social justice, while expanding it with considerations on diversity and democracy. The just city, in her view, may comprise of relatively homogeneous neighbourhoods, as long as their boundaries remain porous and further segregation and large-scale displacement are contained. Although Fainstein mentions the problem of involuntary concentrations of disadvantaged population groups and unequal spatial access to opportunities, her planning principles seem to be more concerned about securing social benefits from given projects and general policies, rather than devising pro-active spatial strategies directed towards equal access to opportunities on a citywide scale.
In this paper, we propose an alternative, spatialized approach to the just city and just planning policies. Following Soja (2010), we assert that space and spatial processes have a central role in producing and reproducing social injustices in terms of access to opportunities. Accordingly, we consider trends of ‘ghettoization’ as a major source of social injustice, where we understand ghettos as areas with high concentrations of disadvantaged people, potentially leading to social marginalization, overburdened schools and a general lack of life chances. ‘Gentrification’ marks another source of injustice, where previously neglected areas become areas of privilege, depriving displaced residents and others from newly created opportunities.
Based on the cases of Birmingham and Zurich, cities with contrasting planning traditions, we offer a discussion of housing and urban renewal policies against the background of city-specific patterns of ghettoization and gentrification. Focusing on the 1990s onwards, we find that the continued marketization of housing and urban renewal efforts in Birmingham have done little to counteract ghettoization, while the public reliance on housing associations and neighbourhood upgrading in Zurich have allowed for exclusionary practices and displacement. For both cities, however, the framework can serve for devising spatially just planning policies. Social justice in cities, we believe, is aided by a spatial understanding of social injustice and corresponding, spatially informed, citywide planning strategies.

Abstract

In The Just City, Fainstein (2010) proposes principles for directing and evaluating urban planning with regard to the ‘just city’. Equity and a fair distribution of costs and benefits from public policy are central to her concept of social justice, while expanding it with considerations on diversity and democracy. The just city, in her view, may comprise of relatively homogeneous neighbourhoods, as long as their boundaries remain porous and further segregation and large-scale displacement are contained. Although Fainstein mentions the problem of involuntary concentrations of disadvantaged population groups and unequal spatial access to opportunities, her planning principles seem to be more concerned about securing social benefits from given projects and general policies, rather than devising pro-active spatial strategies directed towards equal access to opportunities on a citywide scale.
In this paper, we propose an alternative, spatialized approach to the just city and just planning policies. Following Soja (2010), we assert that space and spatial processes have a central role in producing and reproducing social injustices in terms of access to opportunities. Accordingly, we consider trends of ‘ghettoization’ as a major source of social injustice, where we understand ghettos as areas with high concentrations of disadvantaged people, potentially leading to social marginalization, overburdened schools and a general lack of life chances. ‘Gentrification’ marks another source of injustice, where previously neglected areas become areas of privilege, depriving displaced residents and others from newly created opportunities.
Based on the cases of Birmingham and Zurich, cities with contrasting planning traditions, we offer a discussion of housing and urban renewal policies against the background of city-specific patterns of ghettoization and gentrification. Focusing on the 1990s onwards, we find that the continued marketization of housing and urban renewal efforts in Birmingham have done little to counteract ghettoization, while the public reliance on housing associations and neighbourhood upgrading in Zurich have allowed for exclusionary practices and displacement. For both cities, however, the framework can serve for devising spatially just planning policies. Social justice in cities, we believe, is aided by a spatial understanding of social injustice and corresponding, spatially informed, citywide planning strategies.

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Additional indexing

Other titles:Spatializing ‘Just City Planning’
Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords:just city, spatial justice, urban planning, ghettoization, gentrification, displacement, social housing, urban renewal, GIS mapping
Language:English
Event End Date:22 June 2019
Deposited On:16 Dec 2019 13:34
Last Modified:16 Dec 2019 13:34
OA Status:Green
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100012M_170240
  • : Project TitleThe democratic foundations of the Just City

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