- From a top-down to a bottom-up urban discourse: (re) constructing the city in a family-inclusive way
- Journal of Housing and the Built Environment
- Volume | Issue number
- 24 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This paper focuses on urban discourses as powerful instruments intertwined with the dialectic of inclusion and exclusion. First, three dominant contemporary urban discourses developed in the field of urban planning are scrutinized on their inclusiveness of families and daily family life. The attractive city, the creative city and the city as an emancipation machine are examples of urban discourses communicated top-down via reports, debates and media attention. It is argued that these three discourses do not address families as urban citizens nor the very notion of reproduction and its daily manifestation.
The exclusionary character of contemporary urban discourses does not only result in a
neglect of urban families, it also legitimates non-intervention when it comes to family issues. This conclusion activated the search for an alternative discourse as expanded in the second part of the paper. This alternative discourse is constructed from the bottom-up and is rooted in the day-to-day experiences of urban families themselves. It is a refined discourse, with interrelated geographical scales including the city as a whole, the neighbourhood, the street and the home. This is a city that integrates—as families themselves do—the different domains of life. The city is appreciated for its qualities of proximity, the neighbourhood for its ethnically mixed children’s domains, the street as an urban haven and the house as the place that accommodates private life for each member of the family. This alternative discourse is called the balanced city. The empirical basis is drawn from middle-class urban families in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
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