Urban social reproduction: a new perspective for operationalising the just city

    Activity: Talk and presentationAcademic presentationAcademic


    Conceptualisations of the just city often focus on the distribution of resources and services. Therefore, urban scholars have widely studied the material and immaterial consequences of urban income inequality, including the inaccessibility of adequate housing, healthy food availability, and stress resulting from life in deprived neighbourhoods. However, urban scholars have thus far not studied dynamics like urban exclusion and marginalisation from the perspective of the organisation of such vital needs by inhabitants. To fill this gap, this paper proposes the use of social reproduction theory in conceptualisations of the just city. Social reproduction entails the practices, responsibilities and relationships that make life possible on a daily and intergenerational basis. Starting from social reproductive needs rather than their material satisfaction provides a novel approach to identify what is lacking in unjust cities and what is required to create just cities. Social reproduction is often satisfied through a combination of paid and unpaid activities. For example, while income from work and (in)formal economic activities affords rent and food purchases, the preparation of food and cleaning the house often remain unpaid. Therefore, this paper proposes to investigate the practices and power relations that emerge where production and reproduction meet. It thus proposes the idea that urban social reproduction, satisfied through unpaid and paid work, can reveal new understandings of urban lives, spaces and dynamics. Studying cities from a social reproduction perspective opens up new avenues to understand and encourage just cities beyond income distribution and formal economic participation. Such a framework can enable novel ideas to create just cities beyond traditional means of fighting inequality, which are already under pressure from automation, digitalisation, and labour market precarisation.

    Event titleOperationalising the just city: AESOP Ethics & Values in Planning Annual Conference
    Event typeConference
    LocationDortmund, GermanyShow on map
    Degree of RecognitionInternational