Coordinated by Nicos Souliotis & Thomas Maloutas, the Restoring the relations between inhabitants and urban policies workshop session considers the awareness of municipal policy to inhabitants.
Theme and questions
An surprisingly common finding from research undertaken in different European cities is that inhabitants are not aware of the policies that are implemented in their neighbourhood (urban regeneration projects, initiatives fostering multiculturalism etc.). They also have a rather vague idea of municipal actions and are not in position to evaluate them. Similarly, participation in local associations of any kind is rather low mainly as a result of a general alienation from politics. As an expression of wider difficulties of social integration, immigrants tend to participate even less in municipal actions and local associations. Can this situation be reversed? Could local associations, as the most active part of local communities, play a particular role in this process?
Participants will receive preparatory material prior to the workshop. It will include a comparative table presenting the main features of the relation between inhabitants and diversity-related urban policies in the cities part of the DIVERCITIES project. The table will be based on the reports delivered by DIVERCITIES partners. It will include analyses of these reports and quotes from interviews with inhabitants.
The workshop will commence with a presentation of 15-20 minute presentation by the coordinators. The presentation will provide an overview of the relation between inhabitants and urban policies. The coordinators will present a typology of the factors that bring inhabitants close to or distance them from urban policies. The presentation will argue that the relation between inhabitants and urban policies depends on:
a. contextual elements (tradition of strong or weak civil society, recent political history etc.) that differentiate cities
b. the matching between political agendas and local needs (the latter as they are described by the inhabitants)
c. the promotion of participatory processes by policy-makers
d. the role of key actors that mediate the relationship between political authorities and local communities, especially associations and social activists.
The remainder of the workshop will comprise discussion between the participants who will be invited to contribute by referring to their own experience as policy-makers, members of organisations or social scientists.
Image: Dimitris Balampanidis