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City renewal as a social practice


This research project answers the question of how diverse voices and interests of residents can be better represented in urban renewal projects and how social work organisations can play an active role in this.

In the 1980s, urban renewal focused on the position of vulnerable groups. Today, the physical, spatial and economic impact of urban regeneration projects takes precedence over the social impact. However, the social impact on daily life and the living environment is not only unavoidable, but also significant. Not only gentrification but also a democratic deficit are problematic from a social point of view. Opportunities for participation are usually exploited by better educated and/or more affluent city residents. As a result, the voice of a large part of the super-diverse resident population remains unheard. 


We select two urban renewal projects that differ in dynamics, phasing and timing. We base our work on the notion of diversity of meaning and the possibility of dissensus, which is characteristic of social work as a democratic practice. We use the method of action research, in close consultation with various stakeholders such as neighbourhood organisations and urban planners.

The research techniques are largely implemented through place-based forms of social work. These have their origins in micro-sociological and anthropological research traditions. The collection of data is closely linked to the implementation of actions, where the people are located and with attention to the prevailing values and norms. This approach lowers the threshold and has a highly participative character.