Urban Grassroots Movements in the Illiberal State. Reconsidering the effects of post-socialist transformations in Hungary
Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
In our paper, we would like to discuss the rapidly changing character of urban spaces and the role of recreational spaces in the gentrifying post-socilist city of Budapest. We would like to analyze the power in self-organization and strategies of mobilization of local urban communities, and we would like to claim that the recent developments towards an ‘illiberal state’ in Hungary have triggered a return towards grassroots politics. While this might be a positive development in itself as it could help grassroots movements regaining legitimacy, we show in the paper that these local (urban) movements remain haunted by structural constraints and are limited in their potential to use political opportunity structures, transactional activism and discourses which would make their mobilization effective. The analysis that follows builds on several fields of expertise regarding social mobilization in Hungary. In the early 2000s, transnationalization and Europeanization have dominated both the political agenda and the scholarly literature, leading to organizational changes (often described as NGOization) and ideational reframing of local urban environmental activism. Using two case studies of urban environmental protests, the contribution illustrates the post-euphoric development of the Hungarian grassroots movement in period that was marked since 2010 through the consolidation of a self-termed ‘illiberal’ regime. Faced with a difficult environment, we identify reorientation towards grassroots activism as a new trend driven by the closure of opportunity structures. This goes together with the alienation of local protests from institutional channels of influence-seeking and the weakening of ties with potential political allies such as political parties or professionalized NGOs.
Commonifying From Inside The State? The Case Of “La Comunificadora” And The Promotion Of Alternatives To Capitalism
First conceived as an alternative to neoliberal markets, sharing economy platforms have turned out to have mixed outcomes.They have challenged traditional sectors, public authorities and local communities, putting more pressure on strained resources and infrastructures, contributing to labor precariousness and patterns of inequalities. As a response, communities and local governments are exploring alternative models like platform cooperativism, which takes into account governance, knowledge or technological policies. An example is the city of Barcelona. The victory of the left-wing citizen platform Barcelona en Comú created the city hall’s political shift towards a model favoring the commons and technological sovereignty for the city.
My contribution proposes to reflect on how the State is trying to channel digitalization to promote alternatives to capitalism and whom this serves. Barcelona’s La Comunificadora “incubation” program is a relevant example of such effort. Now in its third edition, the program is led by Barcelona’s economic promotion public agency. Its aim is to “commonify” sharing economy platforms to promote models closer to the commons and the Social and solidarity economy.
Is the public administration using this initiative to reinforce its power or is it redistributing power to civic society? What alternative models are emerging from La Comunificadora? This study was carried out using participant observation and interviews with the project holders, the teaching team and the public administration. It was triangulated through the analysis of content produced by the participants for each session through a collaborative documentation tool.
Urban Resistance And The Creation Of Political Subjectivities: From Struggles Against Eviction To Everyday Life Continuities
CICS.NOVA, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal
This paper brings together two complementary ethnographical research projects based in Lisbon: a case-study about the struggle against eviction of an entire building in Mouraria, a neighbourhood located in the historical city centre traditionally associated with low income and migrant populations, and a long investigation about the revitalisation project of the neighbourhood, started in 2011 by the local authorities.
This empirical case allows us to critically discuss diverse modalities of resistance to residential displacement and to urban transformations that reinforce social inequalities. We will problematize both consciously politicized struggles for the right to stay put and different forms of everyday resistance. The latter are often invisible, consubstantiating in the continuity of the presence of low income residents and city dwellers, in their day-to-day practices and in the places where they occur (Lees, Annunziata & Rivas-Alonso, 2017; Giroud, 2007). These practices and places are associated to a reality that simultaneously precedes the present logic of urban regeneration and is deeply entangled in the continuous process of transformation to which urban spaces are subjected.
We question whether everyday practices can effectively contaminate political practice (Hall, 2011) and how different types of resistances spark the formation of new political subjectivities (Boudreau, 2009) among groups and individuals with different social backgrounds and different situations regarding economic resources to face pressures on living conditions.
Contesting urban regeneration in Lisbon. Insights from the ROCK project.
Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Portugal
In the last few years, Lisbon has experienced turbulent transformations. While the 2009 debt crisis led to a dramatic economic recession, the recent growth of big capitals in the real estate market and tourism industry has significantly contributed to the country’s financial stability. At a point where Lisbon is being celebrated globally as one of the most attractive destinations to visit, work and invest serious concerns arise regarding the persistence of long-standing socioeconomic cleavages and the disruption of new urban inequalities.
In order to address some of these challenges several initiatives of urban regeneration are being promoted in Lisbon by local and supra-local organisations. In the framework of the ongoing H2020 project ROCK - Regeneration and Optimisation of Cultural heritage in creative and Knowledge cities - this paper focus on an in-depth investigation on the social transformations in the Marvila neighbourhood and the role of citizen engagement in cultural heritage-led regeneration. The emergence of a grassroots strategy led by local residents to drive their collective claims for public spaces and services’ renewal highlights relevant aspects about engagement processes in urban regeneration and the extent to which local communities can reclaim their vision and rights, either in synergy or in opposition to public and private agents acting in the field..
Accordingly, this paper reflects on the complex and interwoven set of imaginaries, interests and agendas of urban regeneration that are currently being contested in Marvila. Empirical knowledge collected through ethnographic research will explore the impacts of multi-scale governance in urban contexts, and the role of grassroots participation within wider urban transformations.