Urban development and citizen participation in gentrification areas

Ansvarlige / contacts:

  • Sissel Hovik, OsloMet Handelshøyskolen
  • Sveinung Legard, OsloMet Handelshøyskolen (lesv@oslomet.no)
  • Kristin Reichborn-Kjennerud, Arbeidsforskningsinstituttet OsloMet

About the session

Cities are growing. The share of the world’s population living in cities is expected to double within 2050. This puts a tremendous pressure on centrally located and traditional low-income neighborhoods, which are “upgraded” and “developed” and overtaken by a young and highly educated middle class. Residents in many cities protest against this type of gentrification. They demand more influence over what goes on in their neighborhoods. The government often accommodates citizen participation as part of area-based initiatives and other types of urban renewal projects. Even if the demand for participation from below, and the accommodation of participation from above, sometimes coalesce around common endeavors, resident and government agendas frequently collide over questions of what constitutes legitimate participation or what kind of issues that citizens should be allowed to influence.

In this session, we take a closer look at what conflicts and communities of interest that emerge between government agencies, property developers and different groups of residents in urban areas that undergoes gentrification. We focus on Oslo, but welcome papers and presentations from other cities in Scandinavia and the world at large.

We wish to discuss what type of participation and mobilization that takes place in gentrification areas. How do different groups of residents organize to impact local development, and what channels and strategies do they deploy to urban policies? Likewise, how does the government open up for citizen participation, and what interests and groups does it seek to reach through its efforts and to what ends?

We also want to investigate how digitalization affects mobilization and participation. How do, for example, residents use social media to organize around urban development issues, and how does digitalization affect what the government does to give citizens a chance to voice their opinion and even decide on urban development projects?

We are also interested in how different models of urban governance affect both citizen- and government-initiated participation. What kind of mobilization and participation schemes emerge in cities where private actors have a large say over urban planning, as opposed to cities where the government seek to be the protagonist? Here, we encourage papers and presentations that compare different cities.

We are especially concerned with power in urban development. Is the widespread use of citizen participation merely a charade, does it contribute to gentrification “with a human face”, or does it provide disadvantaged citizens with a real opportunity to prevent or initiate projects in line with their interests? Who gets influence or what kind of urban issues, and what consequences does this have for urban governance and democracy? Here, private entrepreneurs and market forces play an important role. Thus, we encourage papers and presentations that thematize how capital functions in gentrification areas.