Phase V: 2021

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

crossover/focus: urban research and political theory

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. Urban 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 ;socio-environmental criteria like poverty and living in marginalized areas with poor housing quality). Yet 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 soon face processes of aging. 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? How are intergenerational ways of co-living framed and what building typologies and public space designs actually facilitate an active exchange between different urban generations? 

In terms of theoretical conceptualization, we will invite scholars considering e.g. a feminist ethics of  the body, of affect and of care that have been recognized in political science (theoretically, methodologically) as facilitating inclusive and socially innovative approaches to an understanding of this third challenge of urbanization. At the same time, the simultaneous co-existence of (demographic, spatial) phenomena of urban shrinking alongside (immigration-based, economically-desired) spatial phenomena of urban growth are part of an understanding of this key challenge for which we invite an international scholar versed in political science based approaches to urban policy analysis as regards increasingly fragmented urban biographies in need of mobility, interconnectedness and access to urban life and urban services. Particularly urban research can serve as an innovative scientific interface at which insights on inter- and intragenerational problematiques and policy response to changing demands for (co)housing production, low-threshold public space design and inclusive welfare delivery need to be framed.