620.3 Invoking and disrupting community in urban development strategies: Exploring its (post-)political tendencies

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 9:40 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Stijn OOSTERLYNCK , Department of Sociology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Community-based governance has become an increasingly popular strategy for urban development strategies in disadvantaged urban areas across the world (DeFilippis and North, 2004). It puts community building, civic engagement and the development of social capital to urban renewal plans and steers a middle course between state- and market led forms of territorial development. The idea of community as the vehicle for collective action in urban neighbourhoods has however been criticized from various angles (Mayer, 2003). Marxist, feminist and post-structuralist scholars have argued that the idea of community ignores asymmetric relations of power and domination within the community. It tends to ignore the fundamental split of the social along (amongst others) class and gender lines. In this paper we explore the conception of the political underlying attempts to both invoke and disrupt community in urban renewal strategies. We do this through a case study of community-based planning in the gentrifying neighbourhood Brugse Poort in Ghent, Belgium. A recent social urban renewal program successfully revived community dynamics in this post-industrial neighbourhood, but was met with a powerful attempt of a local social worker at disrupting the new hegemonic image of the neighbourhood. He defended his intervention by arguing that the new community being built obscured and marginalized his clients and their social needs. This intervention is analyzed as an attempt to create a space where a political disagreement about who constitutes the community can be staged (Rancière, 1999).

DEFILIPPIS, J. & NORTH, P. 2004. The emancipatory community? Place, politics and collective action in cities, pp.72-88 in LEES, L. (ed) The emancipatory city? London: Sage

MAYER, M. 2003. The onward sweep of social capital: causes and consequences for understanding cities, communities and urban movements. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27, 110-132.

RANCIERE, J. (1999). Disagreement. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.