Right to the City and Spatial Planning: Focus ‘Aging Society’

VU / Semesterwochenstunden: 2.0 / ECTS: 3.0

TISS Kurs: 280.949

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of the course, students are able to

  • summarize and critically reflect on ‘right to the city’ discourses and (recent) perspectives from care debates,
  • summarize and critically reflect on current debates around ‘age friendly’ cities, urban development and planning,
  • discuss approaches in the field of aging research and identify their relevance for planning and urban design process, and everyday practices of space production of older persons at the interface of housing and public space,
  • independently conduct qualitative empirical research, i.e., identify a research problem, develop a research design, apply methods of empirical social research, and interpret the empirical results in discussion with theoretical-conceptual approaches,
  • recognize ethical challenges in research processes and critically examine one’s own role as a researcher,
  • present and discuss the research project and results in a written report,
  • present the research project in the course of a final presentation.

Subject of course

The topic of age has received growing attention in recent decades and has come to the fore once again in the context of the Corona pandemic. On the hand, we can notice an attention in terms of the increasing absolute number of old and very old people and their relative population share. On the other hand, age-related issues in media debates, politics and academia are very often dominated by negative scenarios – e.g., an apparent threat of aging populations, the emergence of a ‘retirement society’ and the associated ‘care crisis.’ Different age stereotypes and images of aging – from the ideal of the ‘active ager’ to the vulnerable and fragile very old, who need particular protection and care – shape public discourses. The associated values and norms serve as points of orientation for individuals, social groups and organizations.

In this context, city administrations and professionals from the fields of planning, architecture and urban development are increasingly confronted with questions around “age-friendly cities” (WHO 2007) in order to meet these demographical changes. In particular, questions concerning the design of age-appropriate living environments, the provision of and access to housing, social infrastructure and public spaces in cities are becoming virulent. In this course, we will explore debates around ‘aging societies’ and age-friendly cities, and will search for the “hidden geographies of age” (Skinner et. al. 2015) in the everyday routines of older people at the interface between housing and public space. The focus here is to explore and understand how everyday practices and ways of life, perspectives and experiences of older people in Vienna look like, and ask what implications this might have for urban development and related issues. To do so, we engage with literature and studies in aging research that highlight the relevance of older people’s knowledge and take a closer look at the conditions for living in old age ‘on the ground.’ By applying different qualitative methods, the aim is to make visible and tangible urban everyday knowledge and practices of older people, which often remain unconsidered by previous planning practice and research.

Skinner, Mark W., Cloutier, Denise and Andrews, Gavin J. (2015), Geographies of ageing: Progress and possibilities after two decades of change, Progress in Human Geography 39(6): 776–799.

WHO World Health Organization (2007) Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide. Geneva: WHO.

Teaching methods

The course combines lecture and exercise parts. It includes lectures, literature reading and seminar discussion as well as the independent development of an empirical research project within small student groups. Depending on the Corona regulations, excursions to relevant actors and projects in Vienna will be conducted. 

Mode of examination

Immanent

Additional information

The course is assigned to the following elective modules:

  • Wahlmodul 5: Gesellschaft, Alltag und Raum
  • Wahlmodul 1: Global Development of Cities and Regions (tbc)

The course mainly addresses master students from planning and architecture, and interested advanced bachelor students. We explicitly welcome students coming from other Viennese universities in disciplines relating to urban studies and spatial research, such as educational studies, migration studies, urban design, geography, sociology, political science, landscape architecture, cultural studies (‘Mitbeleger’ at TU Wien). The course language is English. We support students’ active participation in debates and interactive teaching formats. We encourage students to bring in and develop their own ideas and critical perspectives. We seek to create an international level of debate and exchange and welcome students from all countries and cultures. Just contact us (info@skuor.tuwien.ac.at).