Urban citizenship and right to the city: The fragmentation of claims

Blokland, T., Hentschel, C., Holm, A., Lebuhn, H., & Margalit, T.

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Blokland, T., Hentschel, C., Holm, A., Lebuhn, H., & Margalit, T. (2015). Urban citizenship and right to the city: The fragmentation of claims . International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 39(4), 655–665. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.12259

Entrepreneurial Urbanism , Fragmented Politics , Right To City , Urban Citizenship

In this symposium, we explore how urban citizenship is about expressing, if not producing, difference, and how fragmentation of claims affects urban citizenship and right to the city movements with their universal, all-inclusive ideals. Investigating social movements, political participation and conflicting diversities in public space in Tel Aviv and Berlin, we see a trend towards a diversification of interests, a weakening of movements, and even a competition over rights and resources rather than a development of mutual support and solidarities among various groups on the pathway to a livable city. This tension, we argue, deserves attention. Radical urban scholarship and politics need to better understand the historical and place-specific contexts that structure the formation of citizenship claims and the courses that citizenship struggles take. Celebrations of urban citizenship as a more contextualized, community oriented, and bottom-up framework (in comparison to national citizenship) should therefore be complemented by a careful investigation of their fragmented and fragmenting practices.

Main finding
Right to the city and urban citizenship movements are affected by a fragmentation of claims due to shifts toward entrepreneurial politics and ever diversifying populations. In this symposium article, one empirical case found forms of discrimination effectively 'buried' by groups traditionally discriminated against in lieu of forging alliances. This happened within a context of subcultures fueling a gentrification process that in turn caters to the white members of this particular discriminated group - whites in the gay and lesbian population. Another study asks how participatory structures and political agency are co-constituted. In the context of global interurban competition, the authors of this symposium see trends toward diverse interests, weakening movements, and increased competition over rights and resources in lieu of forging solidarities. It's a tension they think needs more attention in research.

Description of method used in the article
This was a symposium paper that presented three empirical cases analyzing fragmentation at the intersection of debates between the right to the city and urban citizenship that work through mechanisms of place, identity and the city's political economy.

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