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

25. Changing urban geographies of growth and decline

Throughout the 20th century most theories and models of urban development have tried to explain why and how cities and city-regions grow. Cities with a declining population were generally seen either as exceptions facing extreme circumstances like war or disaster, as a temporary phenomenon, or as an unavoidable consequence of a scale enlargement process of urbanisation.
This situation is about to change, as “shrinking cities” are gaining increased attention among urban scholars. Yet, despite a growing number of empirical studies on this topic, the conceptual and explanatory frameworks used to approach “urban shrinkage” still have much to gain in terms of clarity and analytical strength. “Shrinkage” competes with concepts like “decline” or “decay”; it is not exactly clear what the differences between these are and what alternatives they offer urban research. Moreover, while a number of well-established theories provide explanations for the fact that a city has lost population, the connections between these theories and the current research on “shrinking cities” are still to be explored.
This session aims at furthering the conceptual debate on “shrinking cities”. It invites theoretical and/empirical papers that address the following questions:

  • What is urban shrinkage? How can it be conceptualized?
  • What are the most important causes of urban growth vs. urban decline?
  • What are the most important consequences of such growth or decline?
  • How does shrinkage challenge existing theories of urban development?
  • How are growing and declining cities or regions interrelated?
  • What will be the future of shrinkage?

Session organizers:
Marco Bontje, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), University of Amsterdam

Matthias Bernt, Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning (IRS)

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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