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

17. Cities as learning grounds for citizenship

This session addresses the issue of solidarity in a context of cultural diversity. How do individuals and groups learn to live with diversity, and how do government and civil society actors intervene to improve solidarity amongst diverse individuals and groups? So far, social sciences have been rather pessimistic about the possibilities for sustaining solidarity under conditions of cultural and ethnic diversity, as exemplified in the research on welfare states or the social capital literature.
This literature seems to have been overly myopic in focusing on strongly institutionalized forms of solidarity and to have put too much emphasis on the consensual character of solidarity. This session aims to  explore how the urban can be a condition for the development of solidary practices in everyday life and to develop a more politicized notion of solidarity. In urban contexts of propinquity, a diversity of cultural and ethnic groups are de facto juxtaposed in space. A shared responsibility for and interest in that space can become a basis to engage in a politics of mutual learning and negotiation and in building new and innovative practices of solidarity across ethnic and cultural boundaries.

We welcome cases studies as well as more theoretical contributions that address topics like:

  • the concept of practices of solidarity
  • critical discussions of the social capital and social cohesion literature
  • public learning processes in relation to everyday solidarities
  • solidarity as acts of citizenship
  • case studies of policy or third sector interventions stimulating practices of solidarity
  • methodological challenges to the study of everyday forms of solidarity
  • methodological challenges to the study of learning processes

Organizers: (please fill in institutional affiliation)

Joke Vandenabeele, Laboratory for Education and Society (LES), K.U. Leuven, Belgium. Email:
Maarten Loopmans, Department of Geography, K.U.Leuven, Belgium. Email:
Stijn Oosterlynck, Centre on Inequality, Poverty, Social Exclusion and the City, University of Antwerp, Belgium. Email:
Nick Schuermans, Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning and Participation
K.U. Leuven, Belgium. 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