Plenary 2

Wednesday, June 27, 16.00-17.45, Aula, University Main Building

The session will be followed by the Rector’s welcome reception in other rooms of the University Main Building.

Gentrification, segregation, and the construction of borders: Social implications of urban growth dynamics in troubled times

Fed by rural-to-urban and international migration, the populations of many urban centers in Europe and elsewhere are growing rapidly, making it difficult for many households to find attractive, affordable housing and fueling processes of gentrification and segregation. What might those involved with urban planning, policy and governance do, informed by current scholarship on social implications of urban growth? The two speakers in this session offer contrasting views of these implications. Ingrid Gould Ellen will counter the critical assertion that new urban development and gentrification inevitably drive displacement and resegregation, referring to evidence from the USA that over time gentrification can open for lasting economic and racial integration. Michael Neuman will speak on the role played by planning and governing organisations and institutions in drawing and enforcing borders in a time when common norms for conduct have weakened, civil discourse has eroded, and mistrust of “the other” is heightened. The session will close with comments from Roger Andersson and Irene Molina, who offer perspectives on the presentations by Gould and Neuman based on their extensive experience in Sweden and elsewhere with research and policy practices concerning segregation and racism.

Moderator: Terry Hartig

The mixed blessings of gentrification

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Furman Center, New York University, USA

Abstract: In cities throughout the United States and much of Europe, the pace of development and gentrification has accelerated in the past two decades.  Many critics charge that this new development and gentrification lead to displacement and resegregation.  But at least in the short-run, gentrification increases economic integration, and often furthers racial and ethnic integration as well.  I will describe the longer run dynamics of gentrifying neighborhoods and show the degree to which gentrification in U.S. cities has led to stable economic and racial integration over time.   I will also review new evidence about how gentrification and densification affect lower income children of different races and ethnicities.  What does it mean to grow up in a gentrifying, urban neighborhood?  Recent research from the Moving to Opportunity Demonstration shows that poor children enjoyed significant long-run economic gains if their families were given the opportunity to move to low-poverty, and typically low-density, neighborhoods.  Do low-income children growing up in dense, central neighborhoods that experience in-movement of higher-income households enjoy the same benefits? Or are they forced to move to more disadvantaged neighborhoods?  Do effects depend on whether they have access to subsidized housing?  The answers to these questions have critical implications for policy.

The design of the civic

Michael Neuman, Professor of Sustainable Urbanism, University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract: As globalization accelerates, cities and nation-states are struggling to cope with “others” who are not historically members of their new communities and societies.  This is exaggerated by the twinning of neoliberalism and populism, which in the former has led to the weakening of the public and the civic – that is, common norms for conduct – and in the latter has led to reactionary activism – that is, the erosion of civil discourse and heightened mistrust of the other, even if they are from the same society and ethnicity.  The ironies include that history itself is the story of human migration, and that many of these societies have been founded by immigrants and in the past welcomed them.  As one result, walls, borders, and closings of the mind and spirit reign, and rain havoc on societies and lives.  What can and should be done?  How can scholars contribute?

In the scholarship on borders, planning and governing organisations and institutions are key societal elements in drawing and enforcing borders.  This is especially apparent in sociology, political science, geography, and planning.  Yet discussions of institutions and their roles vis-à-vis borders tend to be – inexplicably – muted, with significant exceptions, some to be noted here.  This paper analyses key aspects of the border-institution nexus in relation to cities and how we plan, govern and live in them.


Irene Molina, Professor of Human Geography, Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University

Roger Andersson, Professor of Human Geography, Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University