Project

Back to overview

The democratic foundations of the Just City

English title The democratic foundations of the Just City
Applicant Dlabac Oliver
Number 170240
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Zentrum für Demokratie Aarau ZDA Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.03.2017 - 30.06.2020
Approved amount 294'513.00
Show all

All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Political science
Social geography and ecology

Keywords (4)

Just City; power-sharing institutions; urban planning; political leadership

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Prosperierende Städte Europas bekunden zunehmend Mühe, ausreichend bezahlbaren Wohnraum zu bieten, und sie verfügen oft über Brennpunkte mit sozial schwachen und schlecht integrierten Bevölkerungsgruppen, sofern diese nicht in die Agglomeration verdrängt werden. Dabei stehen den städtischen Behörden unterschiedliche Instrumente zur Verfügung, um diesen Entwicklungen entgegenzuwirken - oder aber zu verstärken.
Lay summary

Der Einsatz solcher Instrumente sollen für drei Städte untersucht werden: Birmingham, Lyon und Zürich. Mit städtischen Bau- und Zonenplänen werden für jede Parzelle die vorgesehenen Nutzungsarten und Ausnutzungsziffern festgelegt, womit Anreize und Bedingungen für die Bautätigkeit von Privaten gesetzt werden. Damit verbunden sind aber auch die Möglichkeiten für die städtische Wohnbauförderung, für das Anlegen von Parks oder für den Bau von Schulen und öffentlichen Begegnungszentren. Ausgehend vom stadtplanerischen Konzept der „Gerechten Stadt“ untersuchen wir die städtischen Entwicklungen bezüglich sozialen Brennpunkten, Verdrängung, bezahlbarem Wohnangebot und Ausrichtung öffentlicher Einrichtungen – und zwar seit den 1990er Jahren bis heute.

Durch den Fokus auf die ermöglichenden Akteure, Prozesse und demokratischen Institutionen wird das Thema der "Gerechten Stadt" erstmals aus politikwissenschaftlicher Perspektive untersucht. Bisherige Arbeiten zur Rolle von "Leadership", demokratischer Kontrolle und partizipativen Planungsverfahren werden ergänzt um eine integrierte Betrachtung am Beispiel von drei Städten mit unterschiedlichen nationalen Planungssystemen und lokalen demokratischen Institutionen. Die Ergebnisse der Studie sollen abschliessend mit politischen Entscheidungsträgern, Verwaltungsstellen und politische Aktivisten diskutiert werden.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 17.02.2017

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Prosperous cities in Europe have difficulties in offering sufficient affordable housing, they exhibit hot spots with socially deprived population groups, provided these groups have not already been displaced into the agglomeration. And yet city administrations do have a number of instruments at their disposal for countering (but also for reinforcing) these trends.
Lay summary

As principal investigator of an international SNSF project, I investigate the use of such instruments in three cities: Birmingham, Lyon, and Zurich. Urban zoning and building plans determine the permitted uses and plot ratios for each lot of the city, thereby defining the incentives and conditions for private developers. These plans also have an impact on possible housing policies, the creation of public parks or community centres. Departing from the urban planning concept of the "Just City" we explore the urban developments with regard to social hot spots, displacement, affordable housing and the set up of public amenities - from the 1990s to present.

By focusing on the facilitating actors, processes and democratic institutions, the issue of the "Just City" is firstly investigated from a political science perspective. We complement previous work on leadership, democratic accountability and participatory planning with an integral view for three cities featuring different national planning systems and local government systems. Results will be discussed with political decision makers, administrative agencies and political activists.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 17.02.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
“Urban interventionism” in welfare and planning: National typologies and “local cultures” in Europe
Carpenter Juliet, Pereira Patrícia, Dlabac Oliver, Zwicky Roman (2020), “Urban interventionism” in welfare and planning: National typologies and “local cultures” in Europe, in Journal of Urban Affairs, 1-20.
Governance and Urban Development in Birmingham: England's second city since the new millennium
O’FarrellLiam (2020), Governance and Urban Development in Birmingham: England's second city since the new millennium, University of Birmingham, Birmingham.
Towards the ‘just city’? Exploring the attitudes of European city mayors
Dlabac Oliver, Zwicky Roman, Carpenter Juliet, Pereira Patrícia (2020), Towards the ‘just city’? Exploring the attitudes of European city mayors, in Urban Research {&} Practice, 1-24.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Dr. Robin Hambleton Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Michael Haus Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Panagiotis Getimis Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Frank Hendriks Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Hubert Heinelt Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
City Futures Conference (EURA/UAA) Talk given at a conference Spatializing ‘just city planning’: An evaluation of citywide planning policies in relation to ghettoization and gentrification 20.06.2019 Dublin, Ireland Dlabac Oliver; Hoole Charlotte; Zwicky Roman; Chu Eric; Lee Peter;
Special issue workshop Talk given at a conference ‘Urban interventionism’ in welfare and planning: National typologies and local ‘cultures’ 19.10.2018 Florence, Italy Zwicky Roman; Dlabac Oliver;
Swiss Political Science Association Congress 2018 Talk given at a conference Towards the Just City? Attitudes of European City Mayors Heading Towards the Just City 01.02.2018 Zürich, Switzerland Dlabac Oliver; Zwicky Roman;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Networking Event Poster 11.02.2019 Birmingham, Great Britain and Northern Ireland O'Farrell Liam;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Building a fairer country after the pandemic? It’s time for the return of the council house Social Sciences Birmingham Blog International 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Is Birmingham a Just City? City REDI Birmingham Blog International 2020
Talks/events/exhibitions photoSCHWEIZ International German-speaking Switzerland 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) What is a “Just City”? A research trip to Zürich City REDI Birmingham Blog International 2019
Media relations: print media, online media Quartier bildet Hochparterre German-speaking Switzerland 2019
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) The Democratic Foundations of the Just City: Urban Planning Politics in Three European Cities City REDI Birmingham Blog International 2018

Abstract

The debate about social justice and just planning policies at the city level has been dominated by planning theorists such as Susan Fainstein (2010). Although scholars of urban politics have been investigating the role of political institutions and political leadership in selected neighbourhood planning projects, they have not to date applied their analysis to the broader municipal policy making with regard to the Just City (e.g. Haus & Klausen 2011; Haus et al. 2005). In an effort to bridge those two strands of research, this interdisciplinary project aims at investigating the role of the democratic foundations - i.e. democratic institutions and processes - for urban planning policies that arguably contribute more or less to the ideal of the Just City. We argue that (1) engaged political leadership is necessary for pushing forward radical policy change for the Just City, (2) the scope of viable planning policies can be expanded by consultation and cooperation with stakeholders and community representatives, (3) serious efforts towards just urban planning policies require active scrutiny through a democratically constituted body. While this working model should hold more generally, we are interested in the question of how the regulatory and institutional context might facilitate successful leadership, stakeholder cooperation, and scrutiny with regards to just planning policies. Therefore, our international comparative framework for analysing just planning politics integrates earlier work on spatial planning systems (Reimer et al. 2014), urban political leadership (John & Cole 1999; Getimis & Grigoriadou 2005; Hambleton 2015) as well as institutional power-sharing (Lijphart 1999; Hendriks 2010; see section 3.2). In more general terms, by investigating the role of political leadership and the conditioning role of their regulatory, institutional context, this study further aims at tackling the agency-structure debate in social sciences (see Savitch & Kantor 2002). The main question here is whether cities are merely depending on structural forces, or whether it is in the power of urban political leaders to enforce urban planning policies directed towards the ideal of the Just City.Through comparative case studies in three wealthy, Western European cities that depart from three different but prototypical institutional and regulatory settings (Birmingham, Lyon, and Zurich), we will investigate municipal planning politics since the late 1980s with regard to the Just City. Quantifying measures for institutional and regulatory patterns will form the basis for our qualitative case studies. Process-tracing (see Gerring 2008; George & Bennett 2005; Collier et al. 2010) allows for a detailed understanding of the causal mechanisms linking political processes of urban planning back to the institutional and regulatory context, and forward to changes of the urban planning policies in each of the three cities. At the same time, local policy efforts towards the Just City will be interpreted in the light of comparative measures for ongoing urban developments. Exploratory interviews, secondary analysis and content analysis (legislation, debates) in the first stage of the project will help to identify issues and actors as well as setting the guidelines for the expert interviews in the second stage. A significant additional value of the project can be found in its interdisciplinary design: deeper insights can be gained from the exchange of political science and planning theorists’ perspectives on the Just City and urban planning politics.The project will not only bring a new, political perspective into the planning-dominated Just City debate, thereby shedding light on the interplay between political institutions (structure) and political actors (agency). The fine-grained analysis of institutional patterns and policy making will enable us to assess the democratic quality of urban planning politics. In addition, the detailed understanding of the concrete causal mechanisms between the relevant factors in each of the case studies will allow us to derive practical recommendations with regard to institutional reform and political leadership.
-