Everyday Life in the Segmented City: Volume 11


Table of contents

(21 chapters)

In 2008 Simone Giometti, Secretary General of the Fondazione Romualdo Del Bianco in Florence, asked if I would organize a conference on The New Urban Sociology (the title taken from the third edition of the textbook co-authored with Mark Gottdiener). Later that year I organized three sessions for a symposium on The Tourist City as part of the Florence Expo celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Foundation (November 14–18, 2008). At the conclusion of the Florence Expo, a group of scholars associated with the Del Bianco Foundation, faculty from the University of Florence, and members of INURA (International Network for Urban Research and Action) met to plan a conference on Henri Lefebvre and the New Urban Sociology – the working title for the conference. After two days of discussion held at the library of the National Institute of Renaissance Studies in the Palazzo Strozzi, it was decided that the conference should be titled Everyday Life in the Segmented City, reflecting very well the breadth of study and wealth of ideas that one finds in Henri Lefebvre's many contributions to urban sociology.

This volume of Research in Urban Sociology derives from the conference ‘Everyday life in the segmented city’ held in July 2010 in Florence, and is composed of a selection of papers originally presented on this occasion. Starting from the epochal assumption that for the first time in human history the majority of the world's population lives in urban environment, the conference gathered a set of presentations dealing with issues of global urbanization, showing a multiplicity of approaches and points of view which we tried to preserve within the limits of this publication. Urbanization is a phenomenon inscribed into globalization process with enormous consequences in the transformation of urban space and the everyday life of citizens: a dynamics which is reflected also in a flourishing analytical discourse that increasingly transcends the boundaries of established urban disciplines. The progressive extension of the urban domain beyond the limits of the city, and across diverse scales, has its corollary in the progressive segmentation of the urban dimension along multiple lines of material, social, economic, cultural and ethnic nature. Here we have chosen the perspective of the everyday to analyse how practices and policy can overcome the spin towards fragmentation and anomy and reinforce social cohesion for a more just and liveable city, endorsing the ‘right to the city’ as postulated by the seminal work of Henri Lefebvre. Although not specifically focused on his work, this collection clearly reveals the fundamental influence of the French philosopher over the knowledge and critique of late modern spatial production (Lefebvre, 1991b), and the net of Lefebvre's concept which connect different papers constitutes an evident subtext to this volume of Research in Urban Sociology. The original structure of the conference foresaw five distinct thematic sections, entitled ‘Right to the city’, ‘Cinematic urbanism’, ‘Governance and planning’, ‘Re-appropriation of urban spaces,’ and ‘Suburbanization and post urban cities’. Ultimately, in composing this volume we decided not to adopt those thematic areas as distinct sections, as many papers demonstrated the interdependence of these topics, escaping a strong separation of the arguments. On the contrary, the five topics recur all along this volume as transversal issues connecting almost all contributions. In the Introduction we aim at retracing those connections, starting from the dialectic evocated by the title between ‘everyday life’ practices of the inhabitants and what has been named here ‘segmented city’ as an epitome of the contemporary city in the age of globalization.

The contemporary city is a field with a myriad of problems that require deep reflection and the questioning of habitual ways of thinking and acting. This chapter examines some of these, while seeking a path – or perhaps a way out – in order to deal with the difficulties linked to the most pressing emergent phenomena: the multiplication of new citizens, the complicated mosaic of differences, the spread of voluntary communities and the requests for recognition in a socially diverse and multiple society.

The reflections brought together in this chapter leave behind mundane literary routines, imprisoned in the clichés of the discourse on post-modernity, to single out a ‘field of practices’ that is enigmatic but at the same time constitutes and generates a new idea of urbanity. DiverCity (Perrone, 2010) is the literary and evocative figuration that recounts this set of practices. The figuration uses a ‘play on words’ between diversity and city, in which the two concepts are understood as entities with a one-to-one correspondence, an ontological interconnection. DiverCity is the outcome of a process to produce and exchange multiple, plural, interactive (built up during the action), expert and experiential knowledge.

In this chapter, we suggest a neighborhood perspective as a possible way to ‘react’ to some suburban trends that characterize the city today. We mention some of these trends and focus on their social and environmental impact. Our aim is to ecologically pose the centrality of sociospatial organization in the city; such organization, indeed, is fundamental to think to more sustainable forms as a countertrend to urban sprawl. On one side, we consider the works of Barry Wellman in order to show that community is more and more disconnected to a particular space or place. On the other side, we consider the contribution of Robert Sampson to stress the centrality of the concept of neighborhood, which has been made free from the ‘community rhetoric’ of strong ties in urban studies. Sampson gives a particular importance to collective efficacy, which he suggests as the tool through which a high quality of life can be pursued in urban neighborhoods. So, these studies stress the organizational and ecological aspects instead of the ones connected to strong local ties. In the final part, we suggest that our perspective is also very useful in order to give substance to the idea of a dense city as a mosaic/network of neighborhoods, a city where social mixitè is a binding element.

The aim of this chapter is a discussion of the post-modern shift towards symbolic economies as a substantial factor of transformation of urban public space. It argues that the shift towards a cinematic mode of production, in which production, distribution and consumption of images assume a dominant role in the social organisation, calls for a related cinematic urbanism analysing the prime role of cities as factories in the global system of symbolic production. The city of Florence is assumed as an exemplar case study, examining the way the symbolic productive chain develops towards the real and virtual domains. I argue that Florence represents an archetype of the cinematic city, anticipating since the renaissance the tendency towards global symbolic production as a dominant sector of its urban economy.

What are the consequences of urban life in an ethno-nationally contested city? How do everyday practices confront municipal strategies that attempt to control such urban situations? Focusing on urban life in which daily negotiation of ethno-national differences occurs, this chapter considers the nuances of urban politics and the use and meaning of the urban space, i.e., the micro-politics and the social dynamic of place-making, and their role in the struggle for urban citizenship in an ethno-nationally mixed city. Discourse analysis and ethnographic encounters define the annual Holiday of Holidays festival in the Israeli–Palestinian neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas as integral to Haifa's strategy for promoting itself as a site of coexistence. The neighborhood serves the entire city in that its “Arab” urban space has become the emblem of that coexistence. This manipulation by the municipality is, however, not reinforced by urban regeneration and heritage management of the local Palestinian community. Nonetheless coexistence discourse is also employed by the residents themselves, suggesting a more nuanced understanding of the role of urban space in promoting the city, as well as of concepts of local identity and citizenship.

Currently, urban social movement studies pay much attention to the emergence of ‘new’ anti-racist and post-colonial transnational urban protest networks and protest formations. Drawing on ethnographic research, I illustrate such developments with reference to autonomous/anarchist Left-wing urban protest in Vienna during the last decade. I thereby combine (Neo-)Marxist critical urban theory and the discursive and cultural studies' inspired approach of radical democracy. I argue that this perspective on urban protest allows for an integrated analysis of its material and discursive groundings. Such an approach would point to material/ist, spatial and cultural aspects of urban protest politics and could thus be fruitful for further discussion, political analysis and political action.

This chapter will use A Propos de Nice, filmed by Jean Vigo and Boris Kaufman in February and March 1930, as a case study to illustrate how city films created segmented views of quotidian urban life in both form and content. In terms of form, short clips are juxtaposed in a rapid montage to form a segmented portrait of the city. In terms of content, the segments in Vigo's film, and the city film genre as a whole, are full of everyday events such as drinking coffee, washing clothes, sunbathing, and playing boules. The portrait of Nice that emerges within the film, then, is one of quotidian segmentation. This chapter will conduct a visual analysis of the film as it progresses, situating it within the history of Nice, cinematic conceptions of the city prior to its production, the city film genre, and the French avant-garde.

This chapter aims to discuss the segmented city in the less developed world, focusing on its informal settlements. The main assumption is that the walls of informal settlements change from rigid to fuzzy ones, as they are analyzed using finer scales. In order to show this change, this chapter is divided into four sections. The first section analyzes the changes in two types of urban structure model: the segregated city model and the segmented city model. The second section describes the changes in governmental intervention models for informal settlements in Latin American cities, emphasizing what has been happening in the city of Recife, Brazil. The third section investigates the fact that, despite the changes in terms of governmental intervention models for informal settlements, there are still limits on the official city maps that effectively impede any appropriate representation of them. In order to show the gaps between the official cartographic representations and the reality of informal settlements, the last section of this chapter analyzes in more depth the walls of one specific informal settlement in Recife called Brasília Teimosa. This finer scale analysis allows us to see that its walls are even more fuzzy and permeable than the walls of the many formal settlements.

The scope of this chapter is place and its identity in view of global changes. The ground for undertaking the topic is the belief that by conscious activity undertaken to protect the value of places we are capable of facing modern changes involving the homogenization of space.

Today we are witnessing a rapid destruction of the existing urban forms, leading to fading legibility of the city structure, destroying the state of subtle balance between space and place, and shaking the sense of identity of city inhabitants. The values of identity, legibility, and a traditional network of meanings and symbols are fading away. The space of flows supplants the space of places, evoking essential changes in the functional structure of cities, almost all over the world.

Is it possible to preserve the tradition and identity of place under globalization conditions? It is a challenge for architects, urban planners, decision-makers, investors, and inhabitants. One potential role of the urban planner is perceived as active participation in creating new qualitative social attitudes, as well as undertaking mediating, promotional, and educational activities. Tools that could be helpful in shaping a new model of place involve comprehensive discussion and education in the field of the value of space, shaping social awareness and grounds for social development. It may be concluded with some caution that such comprehensive discussion will contribute to raising the level of knowledge about the world and the sense of the value of space.

The multi-ethnic neighbourhood of Strømsø in Drammen in Norway is facing a major transformation. The town has undergone major renewal processes during the last decade and has been presented as a successful example of urban development both nationally and internationally. In the chapter, we look closer at what spaces and qualities are underlined as significant in this neighbourhood by the examined appropriators of public space, and how their views relate to the qualities stated in planning documents for the area. Public spaces and meeting points can play a vital role in safeguarding diversity and urban cultural heritage associated with these spaces. Public space represents physically defined structures (streets, squares, parks), but even more importantly a social space offering possibilities of encounter and activity otherwise not displayed in the city. These qualities might be perceived as heritage values and significant constituents inherent in public space. This makes public space the keeper of values that are seen as basic urban qualities.

The Karmeliterviertel is an inner-city neighborhood in Vienna, which underwent a significant revitalization and renewal. Since the opinions of Viennese urban researchers differ to a large extent whether gentrification occurs in Vienna at all, this chapter examines the question, whether the revitalization of the Karmeliterviertel can be defined as ‘gentrification.’ This question is elaborated in the context of Vienna's overall ‘soft urban renewal’ strategy. Despite the fact that direct displacement of households from the Karmeliterviertel was prevented by the mechanisms of Vienna's strict tenancy law, also the local coordination office played a certain role. As higher-status groups moved in the neighborhood, the infrastructure and the amenities changed and were adjusted to their demands. This cultural redefinition resulted in the replacement of restaurants, cafes, and bars, which served the needs of longtime residents and low-income groups. The revitalization of the Karmeliterviertel thus has to be termed ‘gentrification,’ as their social spaces were displaced and as they are less visible in the neighborhood. This form of displacement develops a similar dynamic as direct displacement, when social relations, bonds, and networks, which provide options, coping strategies, and sources of a place-based identity, are dissolved. As gentrification results in homogeneity, the main challenge for a city is to maintain spaces of different milieus and thus to preserve authentic places, characterized by heterogeneity and urbanity.

In this chapter, starting from a general overview of the problems linked to ‘symbolic consumption’ we will investigate the satisfaction of city users. We will then focus on tourist consumption, examining the impact of place identity on its fruition by the public. The focus will be on people's perception of an urban place and how this perception may interact with the symbolic dimension underlying both place identity and its consumption. Such a dimension is not strictly connected to the practical utility of the goods but to their ability to produce values and symbols for the establishment of personal identity. The data collected during an empirical survey regarding people's perception of the Navigli area of Milan have been used to develop this analysis.

During these past years, contemporary urban entertainment economy has been increasingly driven by social and spatial inequality and segmentation of consumer markets. This dominant mode of production has involved a displacement of older modes of working-class nightlife. However, social resistances mainly played by suburban young working classes are being especially (re)produced during their nighttime leisure activities. In the case of Barcelona (Catalonia), youth policies carried out by local administration during these past three decades have intended to reinforce social sanitation through the re-catalanization of its suburbs and by marginalizing social and cultural practices of the young suburban working classes. Focusing on the Catalan capital, this chapter explores how a suburban otherness is mainly built up through the (re)production of highly politicized suburban nightscapes, which are largely related to the claiming of a Spanished ‘suburban’ identity, clashing with the Catalan official one. This chapter ends up opening a debate about the relationship of the re-bordering of postcrisis urban inequalities, the collapse of social cohesion in suburbs, and the emergence of new topographies of urban and suburban power in Barcelona.

The marginalisation of council housing in Britain since the Housing Act of 1980 threatens to obscure some of the very valuable lessons to be learned from almost a century of mass public housing provision. This chapter demonstrates that despite considerable economic problems, and in the face of social change since 1980, a relatively poor council estate remained a site of social capital, and that women were particularly prominent in working with local agencies to solve problems.

This chapter looks at the increasing interest in the cohousing phenomenon in Italy within civil society, public institutions, and academia. The most significant element to emerge from all this interest is the ‘ambiguity’ concerning the use of the concept. It is thus necessary to identify what the ‘Cohousing’ nomenclature is applied to, present it in its historical and geographic context, trace its origins and development on the basis of the related literature, and highlight the recent issues that have arisen from the debates held in international research networks. This chapter will advance the hypothesis that ‘ambiguity’ is playing, to a certain extent, a positive role, creating a common ground where different traditions, institutions, and social practices can meet and approach one another. I also propose considering the remarkable territorial activation expressed by emerging bottom-up initiatives as the most relevant specificity of the actual Italian situation from a public policies point of view. I identify the main issues at the national level and compare them with those issues found during field research carried out through participant observation. The introductory analysis of the reported case study, which focuses mainly on context conditions, shows the Ferrara bottom-up initiatives to be the (unintended) result of previous active citizenship public policies, thus revealing the importance of and the frames provided by urban policies to social innovation processes. As a future research issue, a shift is recommended from a blanket approach to a critical analysis of specific experiences.

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Research in Urban Sociology
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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