XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Sociology on the move, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 2010


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Research Committee on
Regional and Urban Development RC21

Programme Coordinators
Kuniko Fujita, Michigan Sate University, Japan and USA, fujitak@msu.edu
Fernando Diaz Orueta, University of Alicante, Spain, Fernando.diaz@ua.es

Congress Programme


Session 1: Global financial crisis, regime change and new challenges for urban theory
RC21 plenary session. Special session on Congress theme
Organizers: Kuniko Fujita, Michigan State University, USA, fujitak@msu.edu and Fernando Diaz Orueta, University of Alicante, SPAIN, Fernando.diaz@ua.es

Session 2: “Creative cities” after the fall of finance
Organizers: Michael Indergaard, St. John’s University, USA, indergam@stjohns.edu, Andy Pratt, London School of Economics, UK, a.c.pratt@lse.ac.uk and Tom Hutton, University of British Columbia, Canada, thutton@interchange.ubc.ca
This session explores whether global financial crisis is changing prospects and policies for cultural and knowledge ensembles in different urban and national contexts. The crisis of finance and the neoliberal order that supports it, calls into question creative city discourses (Florida, 2002) which presume that market processes can provide a basis for urban innovation and prosperity. Even before the crisis, the sustainability of creative sector development was problematic in settings dominated by booms in finance and real estate (e.g., New York and London). While some creative segments tapped the extension of upscale market niches, consumption spaces and housing, others were displaced or found their development stunted. Given this contradictory relationship, is the meltdown of finance generating hardships or relief for cultural and knowledge ensembles or perhaps even new opportunities for development?  Is support for the creative sector increasing, as public entities perceive new imperatives to diversify the economic base?  Is crisis altering how policy makers perceive and value particular segments within cultural production chains? Are cities from outside the neoliberal heartland now supplying policy models? What now should theorists make of the cultural/creative economy? Is it an epiphenomenon of over-inflated finance or is it taking on a more ‘basic’ position in cities as a fully-fledged advanced producer service?

Session 3: The creative underclass: Culture, subculture and urban renewal
Organizers: George Morgan, University of Western Sydney, Australia, george.morgan@uws.edu.au and Sharon Zukin, Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate School, USA, Zukin@brooklyn.cuny.edu
The word 'creativity' features prominently in the contemporary vocabulary of urban renewal. A city's prospects for regeneration (as Richard Florida tells us) are seen to depend not only on financial investment but on aesthetic and cultural investments too. Many urban planners and policy makers appear now to be convinced that symbolic resources are crucial to attracting professionals/global workers and to kick-starting gentrification. However, recent research shows that increasingly there is a blurring of the lines between high and low culture; that cultural tastes are no longer as class-differentiated as they once were. This is manifested in ways in which street art/ subculture is crossing into the mainstream. Many hip, affluent residents of global cities are today as likely to be involved in activities like hunting down the latest guerrilla creations of street artists like Banksy, or attending grungy alternative performance venues, as they are in patronising mainstream galleries, museums and theatres. The academic literature on gentrification has long recognised the key role played by those Richard Lloyd (in his study of Wicker Park, Chicago) has labeled neo-bohemians. This has influenced progressive planners many of whom expressed ambivalence about wholesale civic redevelopment and a desire to conserve local 'authenticity'. New planning discourses ostensibly seek to encourage both alternative artistic creativity and the vernacular culture of established minority communities. We invite papers from those who have undertaken work into these cultural forms and the ways their practitioners have been affected by transitions in urban/suburban areas. We are particularly interested in papers that explore the social contradictions/ tensions that have arisen through such transitions.

Session 4: New challenges for social and urban theory: The ‘credit crunch’ and beyond
Organizer: Chris Pickvance, University of Kent, UK, C.G.Pickvance@kent.ac.uk
This is intended as a wide-ranging session. It is particularly provoked by the sub-prime crisis, ‘credit crunch’ and subsequent recession, and government responses to these, but events between now and summer 2010 may bring to the fore other events, players and issues. The emphasis of this session is not so much on the details of the subprime crisis, or on housing processes as such, but on theories of how capitalist economies work, how states act, the significance of economic and political ‘globalization’, etc.

My belief is that the ‘events’ of 2008 challenge prevailing theories about what capitalist states can do, how the international economy works, and how the finance and housing sectors work, and what role cities play on these wider processes.
They will also lead to a restructuring of economic and political systems nationally and internationally so an understanding of what the issues are is particularly critical.
We are living through a rare moment when states are making things up as they go along. This moment provides an opportunity for a new politics based on seizing opportunities which were previously thought to be closed off by ineluctable trends.
Among the issues which merit attention are:

Do solutions to the credit crunch support or contradict sustainable policies?

Session 5: Cities and the housing boom/bust
Joint session of RC21 Regional and Urban Development [host committee] and RC43 Housing and Built Environment

Session 6: Everyday cosmopolitanisms in globalizing cities
Organizer: K.C. Ho, National University of Singapore, Singapore, sochokc@nus.edu.sg
In what ways can a cosmopolitan outlook be developed and sustained in everyday urban life? This is by no means an easy question to answer. Challenges to cosmopolitanism – increasing diversity, growing inequality, declining social capital, ethnic-based violence – are many in a globalized world. In an urbanized environment characterized by socio-economic differences, opportunities for interaction, do not, in itself, guarantee positive understanding that leads to an open attitude towards others if interaction brings with it greater suspicion and conflict. Even positive encounters which are sporadic may not have the intended effect of fostering cosmopolitan orientations. Another path of inquiry concerns inter-group relations between citizens of a country and intergroup relations between citizens and migrants. Nation building, national identity, multicultural policy platforms built by the state have worked to foster cooperative relations in a multi-ethnic society. But do good domestic inter-group attitudes and behavior necessarily transfer to migrants?
The panel invites papers which ponder over issues of transnationalism and its relationship to cosmopolitanism, the tensions between official policy pronouncements (e.g. multiculturalism) and everyday realities, and the mechanisms which facilitate everyday interactions (clubs, organizations, amenities, etc) between migrants (students, workers, etc) and local communities as well as the challenges and tensions embedded in such everyday encounters. We encourage submissions using qualitative and quantitative methods as well as analysis at the micro-level and macro-level. We also hope to eventually have a broad spectrum of papers in order to develop a comparative understanding of the processes at work in different cities around the world.

Session 7: The Impact of im/migration on urban culture, public arts and public space
Joint session of RC03 Community Research and RC21 Regional and Urban Development [host committee]

Session 8: Sustainability and learning communities, cities and regions
Organizers: Alun Morgan, London South Bank University, UK, morgana@lsbu.ac.uk and Jesus Blas Vicens Vich, University of Barcelona, Spain, jvicens@ub.edu
The challenge of achieving sustainability in the twenty-first century will demand, amongst other things, new styles, and even systems, of participatory governance and civic engagement across all spatial scales but particularly at the local scale.  This simultaneously demands the development of new structures, practices and styles of governance coupled with the fostering of a more engaged and informed populace or ‘civic society’ which is willing and able to participate fully in appropriate decision making for sustainable development. This is crucially a matter of education and learning across all spheres, phases and sectors. The broad notion of ‘learning communities, cities and regions for sustainable development and global citizenship’ can be seen as powerful formulation characterised by concepts, approaches and tools currently emerging at the interface between participatory approaches to local/regional planning and globally aware place-based education.  It is, furthermore, a formulation which will involve the partnership of a range of ‘learning stakeholders’. This session seeks to explore the nature and potential of these convergences drawing on theory and practice.

Session 9: The upsurge of urban waterscapes: Theoretical and empirical investigations
Organizers: Susanne Frank, Dortmus University of Technology, Germany, susanne.frank@tu-dortmund.de and Sandra Huning, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany, huning@bbaw.de
The new role and meaning of “water” in urban restructuring and design is a common feature of countless cities around the globe – be it the redevelopment of quaysides and shipyards for housing and leisure or the transformation of exhausted opencast pits into artificial urban lakes. The material and symbolic production of urban waterscapes is a contradictory and often contested process. While it can foster greater cohesion, very often it generates new forms of political conflicts, especially when competing notions of urban (social and/or environmental) justice come into play. The upsurge of urban waterscapes also points to larger discussions about a general return of “nature” into urban development and planning. The session focuses on urban waterscapes as a key to understand significant new trends in contemporary urban development. It seeks theoretical and empirical investigations which use urban waterscapes as meaningful delineators of changes in urban social and spatial power relations, political regulation and environmental imagination.

Session 10: (Re-)searching Gothenburg
Organiser: Hakan Thörn, University of Gothenburg, Sweden hakan.thorn@sociology.gu.se

Session 11: Urban neighbourhood dynamics: Spatial and social mobilities
Organizers: Paul Watt, University of London, UK, p.watt@bbk.ac.uk and Peer Smets, VU University, The Netherlands, PGSM.Smets@fsw.vu.nl

Session 12: Social mixing, distinction and identities in urban neighbourhoods
Organiser: Peer Smets, VU University, The Netherlands, PGSM.Smets@fsw.vu.nl

Session 13: A Home in the city: The city and its homes
Organizers: Catrine Andersson, Uppsala University, Sweden, Catrine.Andersson@ibf.uu.se, Mats Franzen, Uppsala University, Sweden, Mats.Franzen@ibf.uu.se and Eva Sandstedt, Uppsala University, Sweden, Eva.Sandstedt@ibf.uu.se
We are living in a time witnessing the multiplication of household and family forms. This dynamic process, fueled by the simultaneous changes in gender relations and life course regime, implies changes not only at home, but also in the use of public urban space, perhaps becoming most visible in the transformation of consumption patterns.
In parallel to this multiplication, we see the fragmentation of the fordist city, and the emergence of the much more complex post-fordist city. Consequently, the relationship between the home and the city may vary considerably depending on e.g. type of household in terms of size and social composition (age, gender, class, ethnicity etc.), size, type and location of the dwelling, as well as atmosphere and type of city. While we do know a lot about family oriented suburbia, urban gay communities, etc., we are lacking anything like a comprehensive and systematic knowledge about variations in the relationship between the home (the living) and the city. This session ventures into this relationship, welcoming papers working at it from the public side as much as those working at it from the private side, thus trying to bridge the private-public divide in our thinking and explore its implications for our knowledge of the city and the home.

Session 14: Business Meeting
Followed by a get-together coktail party

Session 15: Social mixing, mobilities and indetities in suburban and gates neighbourhoods
Chair: Paul Watt, University of London, UK, p.watt@bbk.ac.uk

Session 14: Social inequalities in contemporary metropolises
Organizers: Eduardo Marques, University of Sao Paulo/ CEM/Cebrap, Brazil, ecmarq@uol.com.br and Susanne Urban, Linköping University, Sweden, susanne.urban@isv.liu.se
Social inequalities are central features of metropolises since the rise of modernity. Throughout the 20th century, welfare and Keynesian economic policies reduced social inequalities in many developed countries. Recently, however, economic restructuring, labor market deregulation and some retrenchment of the welfare state drove inequalities to a rise, although this varied substantially by cities and countries. In newly industrializing countries, differently, social inequalities not only persisted, but grew with economic modernization, mainly because of its exclusionary character. Even in those countries, however, the recent scenario is more complex, since old inequalities superpose with new forms produced by recent economic transformations. As a result, the situation of urban inequalities in the world is nowadays more heterogeneous than previously, and in different countries the intensity, the scope and even the meaning of inequalities vary significantly. The aim of this session is to discuss these distinct configurations comparatively, contributing to shed light to the dynamics and mechanisms that produce (and reproduce) the phenomenon.

Session 17: Cities, violence and the challenges of global governance
Organizer: Sophie Body-Gendrot , University of Paris-Sorbonne, France, bodygend@wanadoo.fr
Despite all their assets and resources, large cities have conflict wired into urban space itself. The reasons are numerous: extreme inequalities, fascination and rejection such cities provoke, the diversity of flux in urban spaces, segregation, instability and loss of bearings. In some cities, delinquency and daily violence define specific urban areas and fuel a sense of danger. In other cities, various forms of racism lead to physical, social and economic exclusion. Cities are also magnets for suicide-bombers.  This session focuses on (1) the different challenges and forms such threats present for cities and (2) on the traditional and innovative resources cities offer at a time when nation-states struggle to fulfill their role as buffers against larger forces. Can cities take the leadership of new forms of governance?

Session 18: Who belongs here? The Janus face of belonging
Organizer: Jan Willem Duyvendak, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, W.G.J.Duyvendak@uva.nl
Recent years have witnessed a resurgent interest in the study of home and place across the social sciences. In the context of globalization, ‘belonging’ and ‘feeling at home’ have become central topics in many political and public debates. On the basis of these debates, we can only draw one conclusion: in a mobile world, the question ‘who belongs where?’ is increasingly disputed. This is the most visibly present in debates on changing neighbourhoods: due to the influx of ‘others’, native-born inhabitants claim to have lost their ‘home’. At the same time, many observers seem to agree upon the increasing importance of the local as a safe haven in an otherwise uninhabitable world. However, how realistic is the hope that ‘home’ can indeed provide a sense of belonging? This workshop welcomes papers dealing with the multi-scalar phenomena of ‘belonging’ and ‘home feelings’ (or the lack of these feelings).

Session 19: Dynamic approaches to contentious cities
Organizers: Tommaso Vitale, Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca, Italy, tommaso.vitale@unimib.it and Luca Pattaroni, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, luca.pattaroni@epfl.ch

Session 20: Structurization and institutionalization of urban conflicts
Organizers: Tommaso Vitale, Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca, Italy, tommaso.vitale@unimib.it and Luca Pattaroni, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, luca.pattaroni@epfl.ch

Joint sessions hosted by other RC

Joint Session: Local manifestations of global surveillance
Joint Session of RC21 Regional and Urban Development and RC23 Sociology of Science and Technology [host committee]

Joint Session: Urbanizing societies and leisure
Joint session of RC13 Sociology of Leisure [host committee] and RC21 Regional and Urban Development


Integrative session 9: Sociological challenges to development, inequality, recognition and environmental degradation in the global South
Integrative session of the Brazilian Sociological Society, South African Sociological Association, Indian Sociological Society, Research Committee RC07 Futures Research and RC21 Regional and Urban Development