Annual RC21 Conference 2011

The struggle to belong. Dealing with diversity in 21st century urban settings
Amsterdam (The Netherlands), July 7-9 2011

Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research – Urban Studies
University of Amsterdam – The Netherlands

16. The challenge of global suburbanism

As we have entered a majority urban world, the shape of urbanization has changed. Many, perhaps most new urbanites around the world live in suburbs, not in cities as we would have classically defined them. This is true for those who reside in single family homes on the edge because they want to part from urban lifestyles (as it has been the case in the US suburb of the past century); those who live in tower block peripheries of Canadian, European or Chinese cities; or those in squatter settlements in the global South. They share an experience which is sub-urban: they remain outside the city in material, conceptual and often in experiential terms. Commonly understood to be not “of the city”, the suburbs have often been viewed as places that don’t belong to the city.
Our panel proposes to take a fresh look at how suburbs belong to the city and how they don’t.  What in the world of urban sociology are they, as we are increasingly giving up on the dichotomous notions of centrality and peripherality? Is the normativity of the urban still mostly determined from the centre outward or do the suburbs come into the conceptual centre of urban sociology? Our panel will broach these and related questions, and will attempt to bring the suburbs back in to the centre of urban studies.

Roger Keil, City Institute York University. Email:
Ute Lehrer, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. Email:

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21 December 2011
Deadline for abstract submission

10 January 2011
Notification of selected abstracts

1 March 2011
Registration open

15 May 2011
Deadline for early bird registration and for (some) hotel options

15 May 2011
Deadline for paper submission

15 June 2011
Papers online

7-9 July 2011