Re-making the ideal city through education: institutions and actors in urban schools

Organizer: Astrid Sundsbø (Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, DE) and Daniel Förste (Humboldt-Universität Berlin, DE)
with Christy Kulz (Goldsmiths University of London, UK) and Sol Gamsu (King’s College London, UK); also;,

The utopian ideal of good education is that all children are entitled to equal educational opportunities. In reality, schooling provides a central social field in which the city reproduces its socio-spatial structure (Bunar 2010, Hamnett et al. 2013). The consequence affects the classed structures of cities (Reay 2006). The contested domain of urban schooling still provides a fertile plain in which to examine the spaces between idealisation and everyday practice in the city (Hanson-Thiem 2009).

In this session, we propose to address two issues under a common umbrella, the first exploring the consequences of political interventions on urban educational institutions, the second examining practices and values of parents and their impact on school composition.

Thus, on the one hand we invite papers which examine the role of the state and other institutional actors in shaping urban education, including what effect education policy has on reformulating urban space, how alterations to funding shape local, or how the ethos of schools govern populations differently – racializing, classifying and reproducing difference.

On the other hand, we invite papers which, bringing action theory approaches in, extend debates on how parental practices for school choice evolve.

In particular, we invite papers that:

  • Ask how socioeconomic change and neoliberalisation affect idealised visions of the ‘diverse’ city and what role education policy play in this reformation.
  • Explore, beneath the rhetoric of market-led school reform, the lived reality of urban education. How do actors negotiate this contested terrain?
  • Observe how national imaginaries underpin these urban educational interventions.
  • Examine the values and perceptions behind parental choice and their attachment to neighbourhoods.
  • Explore how and why categories like race and class are used in the discourse of parents and teachers.

E2 Re-making the ‘ideal city’ through education: institutional interventions and parental practices in urban schools

Chairs: Astrid Sundsbø (Humboldt-Universität, Berlin) and Daniel Förste (Humboldt-Universität Berlin)
with Christy Kulz (Goldsmiths University of London) and Sol Gamsu (King’s College London)

Contact:; also;,

Sven De Visscher
The ideal child in the ideal city? The city as a co-educator

Willem Boterman
Family gentrification and middle class disaffiliation through primary schools

Isabel Ramos Lobato
Childcare, class and social mix – The role of networks for school choice

Penelope Vergou
“Birds of a feather flock together”: Middle class education strategies and social mix in multicultural neighborhoods in Athens.

Barbara Schoenig, Krüger Arvid
Fragmented Reforms: The spatial conditions and implications of school reform in a polarized rural-urban setting.

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