Networks and encounters in contested spaces / Stream E – Contested cities

Organisers : Christine Barwick (Centre d’études européennes de Sciences Po, FR); Heike Hanhörster (Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development, Dortmund DE).


In gentrification research, studies often lack a critical perspective. They mostly deal with middle classes, but not with non-gentrifying groups that live in these neighborhoods. We know that middle classes tend to cluster with people ‘like themselves’, they avoid contact with ‘others’, and ‘adopt’ and transform the neighborhood’s infrastructure according to their needs. A range of studies, however, also argues that gentrifiers are not a homogeneous group, and some seem to value ethnic and social diversity in low income neighbourhoods, and actually form category-crossing ties.

These studies usually focus on the native white middle classes, not on ethnic minority middle classes – who might be incoming gentrifies as well, but may also be long-term residents with a process of upward social mobility. Little is known about the non-gentrifying groups already living in these neighborhoods. How are they affected by a changing resident population, changing commercial infrastructure, and changing power relations?

Presentations could focus on the following categories:

  • Institutional context (neighborhoods’ places of encounter, institutions and settings): Which role do focal points play for social interaction to maintain and create social capital?
  • (Changing) Individual social networks and daily practices: To what extent do households in low-income neighbourhoods organize their social relations and activities inside their neighborhood or outside?
  • (Fleeting) Encounters: In what ways can the built environment of a neighborhood facilitate encounters between residents? How does public familiarity develop?

The conveners encourage contributions from different contexts (e.g. national or local housing markets) that focus on the perspective of residents using innovative methodological approaches.

The session will be organized as a discussion, with a maximum of four papers. Each presenter will also briefly comment on the paper of one other presenter. These comments will be followed by a general discussion.

E1 Networks and encounters in contested spaces

Chairs: Christine Barwick (Centre d’études européennes de Sciences Po); Heike Hanhörster (Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development, Dortmund).


Ebru Soytemel
The Desire for Distinction and Diversity: Symbolic Boundaries in Gentrified Golden Horn Neighborhoods of Istanbul

Peer Smets
Gentrifiers’ and non-gentrifiers’ struggle for a liveable hood in Amsterdam.

Jonas Aebi
«We should learn to live more on staircases. But how?» A militant investigation of resistance in a gentrifying neighbourhood in Vienna

Nihad El-Kayed
Different Access to Civic Organizations and Informal Networks?

Distributed papers

Anna Steigemann
‘Do I need to grow blond hair to become German?’ Place Making Practices of Business Owners in the course of a Berlin Urban Renewal Program

Yvonne Franz, Michael Friesenecker
Social mix in gentrifying neighbourhoods: Between imaginary cohesion and the struggle for cohabitation

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