Phase V: 2019 – 2021


2021 Urban Generations: Public Space, Ageing Society and New Health Conditions

Current (urban) biographies are increasingly affected by a new need for (private, professional and leisure) mobility. Access to mobility (through cities, in cities, within urban housing markets, as regards public service provision, etc.) however is not equally shared across different generations and within intergenerational perspectives, across socio-economic divides within one age group. Whereas city inhabitants have been considered socio-historically as being exposed to an increased risk of health problems (due to physiological aspects like air pollution, psychological aspects like stress factors, but also socio-environmental criteria like poverty and living in marginalized areas with poor housing quality), the phenomenon of the ageing society is also accompanied by a new generation of ageing urban dwellers, who opt for an individualized and self-determined way of living as long as their health condition allows. The emphasis on social and technical innovations that help to improve that same health condition come thus under the focus of those generations that face processes of aging quite soon. But also, social fragmentation and isolation as well as phenomena of urban loniless are posing new challenges to urban researchers and to the spatial arts: How are urban policy makers envisioning new approaches to cater for the ageing society, for single-person households in all stages of life and which roles do public spaces play in order to facilitate easy access to urban mobility, housing markets, public space, and other public services? Read more.

2020 Urban Productivity: New Public Space, Youth Integration and Labour Market Access

In many cities of the global North, public spaces have been characterized as having lost their productive role while increasingly catering for the needs of the consumerist lifestyles. This finding is contrasted with empirical evidence (not only) from cities of the global South in which more and more parts of the young population have beend disintegrated and disconnected from the labour markets. According to UN Habitat “youth make up 25% of the global working age population, but account for 43.7% of the unemployed. This means that almost every other jobless person in the world is between the ages of 15 and 24.”(UN Habitat Online 2018). It is in these cities but also in European cities that public spaces are acquiring new productive roles to reorganize existing labour markets and to bring informalized economies and ways to make one’s living back into formalized sectors and patterns of public regulation. In Greece, Spain and Italy between 30-45% of young people are unemployed, whereas rates in Cyprus, Croatia, Portugal and France range between 20 and 30%. Sweden (16,9%) figures close to the European average (16,1%) whereas Austria (9,7%) scores slightly better (Statista Online 2018). Read more.

2019 Urban Citizenship: Public Space, Post-Migrational Perspectives and Civic Innovation

Debates on urban citizenship have been updated particularly in the fields of human geography and urban sociology in the past five years, identifying the need to revise notions of citizenship bound to the legal status of national identities with a particular emphasis on diversifying urban life. This debate has been empirically informed by a growing number of long-term city residents who lack access to the representative political systems, and thus cannot issue their political right to participate in the formal mechanisms of democracy in national states that are undergoing transitions towards becoming even more urbanized territories. Also, the set of methodological tools to research into the roles of public space in diversifying urban societies has been enriched by contributions from cultural theory, particularly cultural studies and sociology, that have rendered cities as key places for migration and migration as key driver of urbanization (also in a historic perspective). From this viewpoint, migration is not an add-on process to already existing cities (and homogeneous urban societies), but migration has been a key condition for cities coming into being, for the everchanging abililty of urban societies to constantly produce innovative ways of thinking and praxis on a densely populated terrain. From this perspective, cultural difference has historically been a key feature of cities and has widely contributed to the success of cities to become thriving places of emancipation. Read more.