Social Milieu, Life Styles, Class

in preparation

Poverty

Poverty is a central aspect of current social and economic changes. Poverty can be defined as falling below the national average household income (‘Äquivalenzeinkommen’) weighted by size and type of household, or defined by the lack of relevant consumer goods or the inability to afford food and/or housing (risk of poverty). Poor people often face marginalization from societal processes, connecting to the concept of social exclusion.

Spatial factors of housing markets contribute to poverty through inferior living conditions, residential environments, lack of accessibility and infrastructure. Allocation processes in the housing market in general and in the social housing sector in particular result in an unequal socio-spatial distribution called segregation. From a political-administrative point of view, segregation is considered to entail a set of risks: parallel societies, ‘cultures of poverty’, challenged neighborhoods). Such spaces of poverty are produced and reproduced on the regional and local scale by macro-social processes (e.g. conditions of housing market), and as well produced by local actors on the micro-scale (relocation patterns etc.). The experience of spaces of poverty is differentiated socially (reproduced).

Typical questions in this field are:

  • Which mechanisms and processes determine spatial concentration of (urban) poverty?
  • Which possibilities exist in urban planning to approach socio-spatial inequality and pockets of poverty?
  • What is the importance of spatial accessibility for the inclusion of poor or excluded social groups?
  • How excluding are poor neighborhoods?
  • How to explain the unequal distribution/ segregation households at risk of poverty?

Urban Food Planning, Food Security

Urban Food Planning and Food Security are rather new topics in urban research and planning discourses in the Global North. Based on concepts from development studies, Urban Food Planning aims at including questions of food security into planning concepts and planning discourses. In an increasingly urbanized world threatened by climate change (Food-Water-Energy-Nexus), questions of how to organize the food system in a way that the food provision for all citizens is secure and sustainable, in rural regions as well as in cities. The topic of Urban Food Planning overlaps with poverty discourses, as social groups suffering from poverty in cities are often prone to inabilities accessing or affording appropriate, healthy, nutritious food diet. With recent food price surges and related protests in cities, the food system showed its political significance and calls for appropriate governance mechanisms to ensure access to appropriate, healthy and nutritious food for urban dwellers.

Typical questions in this field are:

  • Which are suitable governance mechanisms to ensure access to healthy, appropriate and nutritious food in cities of the Global North?
  • Which measures are needed to alleviate food poverty (the inability to access an appropriate, nutritious and healthy diet)?
  • What is the role of self-governed actors (urban gardens, food coops…) in the urban food system and how are they related to the city?
  • How can self-governed actors in the urban food system help to empower (poor) residents?

Stages of Life Course (childhood, youth, ageing)

In 21st century social sciences considers the classical stages of life course of childhood-youth-working age-ageing as obsolete due to a number of social changes and social differentiations. Stages of life course are thus understood as ideal types marked by cuts in individual life courses. Homogeneous, universal concepts of childhood, youth or ageing are absent, as biographies and stages of life course increasingly vary within each age group. Spatial patterns and spatial distribution of age groups are fluid and differ over time. Besides economic reasons and individual preferences, specific urban and infrastructural contexts show diverging suitability for different types of households and  different types of family structures (such as young families, senior couples, singles, widowers etc.). Hence, spatial structures and processes in combination with geographical determinants play a decisive role for stages of life and biographical micro-processes.

Typical questions in this field are:

  • To what extent do planning and government take note of stages of life course?
  • How do children/youth/seniors appropriate spaces and how are these places perceived?
  • Which features determine differences in appropriation and perception of space between age groups?
  • How do children/youth/seniors experience their daily paths in the city and which conditions have to be taken into account?
  • How can specific groups participate in planning and governance processes?
  • What is the relation between residential locations and life events (eg. Retirement) of specific age groups?

Segregation, Gentrification

in preparation

Migration and Integration

in preparation

Gender and Intersectionality

Gender and intersectionality related approaches towards spatial inequality focus on the analysis of discriminatory attributions and structures of gender related and socio-cultural personality traits (such as age, class, income, ethnicity/ nationality etc.). These translate into a research strategy triangulating micro- and macro-analytical research methods to analyze effects on spatial appropriation and use, as well as on the (re)structuring of spatial planning related actions.

Typical questions in this field are:

  • To what extent are patterns of spatial appropriation and use dependent on gender, social and functional structures?
  • Which forms of appropriation of space and use of space exist beyond normative-existentialist connotations and assumptions?
  • How is space produced in planning related actions? Which imaginaries of society form the basis?
  • Which and how much space is allocated to whom? How to renegotiate and restructure hierarchical organizations of space?