City Matters

Faculteit Ruimtelijke Wetenschappen
Jaar 2019/20
Vaknaam City Matters
Niveau(s) master
Voertaal Engels
Periode semester II a

Uitgebreide vaknaam City Matters: Urban Inequality and Social Justice
Leerdoelen 1. Understand the changing socio-economic and institutional (welfare state) context of social problems in urban areas.
2. Explain how different configurations of the political-economy on various scales (e.g. nation states and urban regions) result in different levels of social protection.
3. Describe various concepts that capture urban social problems such as poverty, urban marginality, segregation, territorial stigmatization and social exclusion, and their intellectual roots.
4. Recognize different ethical positions in various theories of spatial justice.
5. Apply different perspectives on spatial justice to historic and contemporary urban developments.
6. Discuss the role of planners and spatial interventions in reinforcing or mitigating socio-spatial inequality and urban marginality on the basis of critical urban theory and real-life cases.
7. Write, present and debate about social problems in urban areas and social justice in an academic fashion.
Omschrijving City Matters: Social Justice and Urban Inequality confronts you with the moral dimension of spatial planning. Too often, planners seek the most effective and efficient planning strategy to reach a pre-defined desired future, without questioning who has the power to define what is desired, and for whom this is desirable.

The urgent societal issues of our times urge urban planners to rethink the foundational principles of planning. We witness the beginning of the urban era, now a majority of the world population lives in cities. The rise of (mega) cities is celebrated as their emergence increases production and economic growth. However, due to the liberalization of the world economy and the restructuring of (European) welfare states, the economic situation of large social groups in the global North and the global South has become precarious. As a result, European cities are in constant transformation. Cities that are well connected in the (world) city network become increasingly unaffordable places to live in for those with moderate incomes. On different spatial scales, we observe an increase of socio-spatial polarization. As socio-economic and ethnic segregation is on the rise, fears for the emergence of a social group that is excluded from mainstream society, economy and civic life, are growing. Altogether, these developments confront the planner with issues of justice. This course enables you to build your own framework to develop ‘just’ planning interventions.

In City Matters: Social Justice and Urban Inequality, four main questions will be discussed:
1. How much (in)equality is fair? In the course, the most important theoretical views on justice (utilitarianism, egalitarianism, sufficientarianism, prioritarianism) are discussed. Furthermore, we discuss the arguments why a given level of inequality is fair according to these theories.
2. Which inequalities are relevant for planners? Is the spatial concentration of poverty under all conditions a planning issue? This question (re)defines the scope for spatial interventions. To answer this question, several theories of spatial justice (David Harvey, Henry Lefebvre, Edward Soja and Peter Marcuse) are discussed.
3. Which mechanisms have generated the contemporary societal problems, such as segregation, urban marginality, and transport poverty? How are planners involved in generating inequalities? We review these mechanisms through the lens of critical urban theory, not considering them as ‘blind’ or ‘neutral’ processes, but as expressions of a power imbalances between interest groups with different ideologies and agendas.
4. How can urban planners contribute to more ‘just’ cities? Challenges that planners and politicians face while trying to create affordable housing and inclusive communities will be discussed. Furthermore, we take a look at successful practices of ‘commoning’, whereby people take control of their own community and resources.

This course consists of eight lectures, seven seminars and an excursion to Belgrade (Serbia) were we visit an urban (re)development project that can be contested and supported from different perspectives on spatial justice.
Uren per week variabel
Onderwijsvorm Excursions, Guest lectures, Lectures, Seminars
Toetsvorm Examination with open questions, Group assignments, Oral presentation
Vaksoort master
Coƶrdinator dr. C.W. Lamker
Docent(en) dr. C.W. Lamker ,dr. B.J. Wind
Verplichte literatuur
Titel Auteur ISBN Prijs
Opmerkingen The maximum number of students is 35. The course is open for Master students from Spatial Sciences and related disciplines. Priority will be given to students from the Master program of Socio-Spatial Planning.
Opgenomen in
Opleiding Jaar Periode Type
MSc Cultural Geography  (Optional courses Cultural Geography) 1 semester II a keuze
MSc Economic Geography  (Optional courses Economic Geography) 1 semester II a keuze
MSc Environmental and Infrastructure Planning  (Optional courses EIP) 1 semester II a keuze
MSc Population Studies  (Optional courses Pop Studies) 1 semester II a keuze
MSc Real Estate Studies  (Optional courses Real Estate Studies) 1 semester II a keuze
MSc Socio-spatial Planning  (Basic programme Socio-spatial Planning) 1 semester II a verplicht
MSc Spatial Sciences (research)  (Optional thematic courses (GERMTTO) year 1 and 2 Spatial Sciences) - semester II a keuze
Msc Philosophy, Politics and Economics 1 semester II a keuze