Socio-Spatial Inequalities and Socio-Spatial Policies in Shrinking Cities

Monday, July 14, 2014: 6:00 PM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Katrin GROSSMANN , Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
Caterina CORTESE , La Sapienza University Roma, Italy
Socio-spatial segregation – the question of the uneven distribution of social groups in urban space – is a classic of urban research literature. The extensive body of literature was elaborated set against the background of growing cities all pointing to the growing spatial separation of social groups in todays cities. Less is known about the dynamics and patterns of socio-spatial segregation in shrinking cities that is cities which loose population over a longer period of time due to a bundle of causes, ranging worldwide from de-industrialization or other economic restructurings, waves of suburbanization, political change or conflict, natural hazards or demographic change. In our paper, in a first step we analyze how urban shrinkage impacts on the process and patterns of socio-spatial segregation. These are based on empirical work in three of the case studies of the EU 7th Framework research project “Shrink Smart”: Leipzig/ Germany, Ostrava/ Czech Republic and Genoa/ Italy. The loss of inhabitants due to far reaching de-industrialization experiences, job migration, suburbanization and steep drops in fertility rates impacted on urban structures in a variety of policy fields, socio-spatial segregation being one of them. With the support of selected data, we shed some light on how urban shrinkage influences the social make up of cities. We will show that in all case studies, population decline acts as a catalyst to socio-spatial segregation leading to pockets of rapid change and decline. Set against this background, in a second step, we examine which policies are promoted to solve problems such as ethnic segregation, ageing, and socio-spatial inequalities. The results show that even though shrinkage does lead to increased challenges for social cohesion, the attempts of policies to tackle them still appear to be secondary priorities, sectoral rather than comprehensive, and involve a certain delay.