Conference Agenda

RN37_04b: Explaining urban structurisation and urban class
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Gabriele Manella, Università di Bologna - Alma Mater Studiorum
Location: BS.3.20
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


ZuNaMi Dortmund - Narratives of Cohesion as an Answer to Disintegration and Radicalization in Urban Spaces

Gerrit Tiefenthal1, Kevin Brandt2, Dortmund, Germany; 2Hochschule Rhein-Waal, Kleve, Germany

Contemporary crises, socio-economic and cultural divides within the EU and Germany are inevitably connected to intergroup conflicts and segregated identity building. The heterogeneous urban area of the old industrial town of Dortmund is well-known as a locus of social disintegration and socio-spatial segregation. Simultaneously, the region is widely known for its long history of immigration and integration. Together with citizens of Dortmund, the action-research based project ZuNaMi (“Developing cohesions narratives together”) strives to find narratives of cohesion and separation as well as the mechanisms of their creation. Therefore, several group workshops that function as deliberative communication spaces were held, with some workshops reflecting on the results of the first project phase to follow. Heterogeneous participants from different parts of the town, forming artificially composed groups, were invited to explicate and debate on these narratives at a performative level. The workshops’ design attempts to both stimulate transformative actions and produce insights into designing deliberative spaces in disintegrated urban settings. In this way, ZuNaMi reacts to the perceived gap between processes of disintegration and othering and approaches concerning citizenship (in Germany) which seem to be inadequate to catch up with these forms of radicalisation. The presented paper reports on the workshop analysis’ first results and discusses how deliberative spaces for boundaries transitions can be created.

Strong, Weak and Invisible Ties: a Relational Perspective on Urban Coexistence

Maxime Felder

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland

The dichotomy between “strong” and “weak” ties is a common theme in the sociological scholarship dealing with urban space (Forrest and Kearns, 2001), yet sociologists and anthropologists have long been describing the prevalence of impersonal relations in urban contexts (Lofland, 1998). Such relations can be described as fleeting encounters (between people unknown to each other), while others – as in the case of “nodding” relationships – are more durable and have yet to be conceptualised.

Relationships with “familiar strangers” – those whom the urban dweller recognises and observes repeatedly but with whom he or she never interacts – have an emotional significance (Fischer, 1982, Morrill and Snow, 2005), help the urban dweller develop “home territories” (Lofland, 1998), or “comfort zones” (Blokland and Nast, 2014). In order to consider these relations as social ties in their own right, I developed the notion of “invisible ties”.

Through an empirical study of urban life in four residential buildings in Geneva, I propose to understand coexistence as an urban fabric held together by strong, weak and invisible ties. In the presentation of my empirical findings, I focus on strong and weak ties first, analysing the more central residents with respect to sociability, or what I term the “entrepreneurs”. Then, I consider how peripheral residents have become “figures”, who may have few weak and strong ties in the building, but are nevertheless familiar to many and connected to them with “invisible ties”. I will explain how figures contribute to coexistence without socialising.

A New Urban Class Structure

Gijs Custers, Godfried Engbersen

Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands, The

The social class model by Savage et al. (2013) has received critical reception by many sociologists. In this study we analyse the academic debate that followed Savage et al. (2013) and we scrutinize the research approach underlying their social class model, which we refer to as Bourdieusian latent class analysis (BLCA). We argue that BLCA has certain specific benefits for documenting contemporary urban classes, and especially for conducting neighbourhood comparative research. We apply BLCA to develop a social class model for Rotterdam, the second most populous city of the Netherlands that is known for its marked inequalities and majority of ethnic minorities. A large dataset (N = 14,040) including measures of economic, social and cultural capital is used to identify eight classes. Similar to Savage et al. (2013), these eight classes sort into a high-middle-low structure. Considering multiple academic studies on Rotterdam neighbourhoods, we demonstrate how our class typology complements such studies on neighbourhood issues. In addition, we study how the neighbourhood class compositions relate to ‘traditional’ socio-economic measures such as income. Our findings show that neighbourhoods with a similar socio-economic status actually have very different class compositions, thereby providing useful insights into issues of gentrification and neighbourhood mix. Implications for the relationship between class, gender and ethnicity are also discussed.

The Formation of Marginal Urban Spaces in Cities in Globalization

Juan Jose Villalon_Ogayar

Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain

In this paper, the author analyzes the historical processes that have strengthened or originated areas in which problems of marginalization, exclusion, poverty and delinquency are concentrated in six urban regions of the world: Nairobi, Santiago de Chile, Cancun, Chicago, Paris and Malaga. Each of these cities represents a different city model because of: the position in the World Economic System that it tends to occupy, the model of state government that has prevailed in its recent history, the system of social stratification that was forged within it in the twentieth century, and, the geographical place it occupies in the World. And, they resemble, among other things, in that: 1- all of them have globalized their economy; 2- And, in that, they contain urban areas with a population that experiences, as a whole, a social situation of social vulnerability greater than the rest of the city of reference.

The defended hypothesis is that: regardless of the position in the world economic system, the state model developed in the 20th century and the system of stratification forged in the 20th century, the globalization of the economy of these cities has originated or strengthened the segregation of minorities and most disadvantaged classes to certain urban areas. That is, the globalization of the urban economy tends to generate urban territorial segregation because urban segregation is a successful strategy followed by the dominant groups to globalize the economy of a city and, not only an unintended consequence derived from other strategies of urban development and globalization of the economy, or of a previous local history.