Urban Life forms in a Future Perspective – Citizens' Participation and Inequalities in the Post-Political Age

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Dietmar WETZEL, University of Basel, Switzerland
For quite some time, urban sociology has been conceptualizing cities as places of tense mass society and infrastructural challenges, but also of a particular urban competence in coping with inequalities and insecurities. Due to the coexistence of multiple realities, people in the city are constantly required to negotiate conflicts and handle with discriminations (Lefebvre 2003; Mollenkopf/Castells 1991). Based on the recent critique of the post-political society by Jacques Rancière and others (Rancière 1998; Agamben et al. 2009), I argue in favour of an acknowledgement and even revitalisation of citizens’ participation as part of deeply democratic mode of existence. One question is: Do the social movements that came up with the urban distortions, e.g. the Right to the City movement, provide an alternative to the mere ‘particitainment’ that is often granted by local governments and by the nation-state? Will there be a possibility for more justice through reducing social inequalities? Against the background of these issues, I discuss empirical findings of the research project VERSS ("Aspects of a just distribution of security in the city"). Principal aims of the project are to figure out how justice and security are produced and distributed throughout urban areas, and how people perceive and affect local security policy, e.g. the reshaping of public spaces. Therefore we conducted interviews with people who are involved in citizens’ initiatives with a scope on justice and security. In my presentation I will discuss to what extent and under which conditions different kinds of citizens’ participation affect the perception of (In-)Equality and how this structures urban life in a future perspective.  


Agamben, Giorgio et al. (2009): Démocratie, dans quel état. Paris.

Lefebvre, Henri (2003): The Urban Revolution. Minneapolis.

Mollenkopf, John H./Castells, Manuel (1991) (Eds.): Dual City: Restructuring New York. New York.

Rancière, Jacques (1998): Disagreement. Politics and Philosophy. Minneapolis.