- Kern, Sex and the Revitalized City, Chapters 3-5
- Bosco, Aitken & Herman (2011) Women and children in a neighborhood advocacy group: engaging community and refashioning citizenship at the United States–Mexico border, Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 18, pp. 155-178
- van Eijk (2010) Exclusionary policies are not just about the ‘neoliberal city’: A critique of theories of urban revanchism and the case of Rotterdam, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34, pp. 820-834
- Driskell, Fox & Kudva (2008)Growing up in the new New York: youth space, citizenship, and community change in a hyperglobal city, Environment and Planning A, 40, pp. 2831-2844
For those who would like to write a Reading Response for Nov 7, here are four questions that you may consider to prompt your writing:
- Consider one or both of the texts that you read for this class period in a discussion of urban citizenship. How do the authors define or discuss (even implicitly, in the case of van Eijk) citizenship?
- van Eijk’s goal is to complicate a reading of urban policy that relies entirely on economic justifications. She argues that social agendas also drive policies that target particular social groups. How is “the social” (eg, social norms or issues) intertwined with “the economic” (economic norms or policies) in each of these texts that you read?
- What do the reading/s tell you about youth engagement in urban activism, or about the development of youth citizens?
- What happens to gender and race in these texts? Are gender and race addressed, and to what end? Or, is one or the other social marker/category obfuscated in the presentation of other issues? If this is the case, what is the effect of this absence?
As we talk about urban citizenship this week, it seems only appropriate to open with a nod to the labour actions happening at SFU on Wednesday. CUPE and TSSU are withdrawing services to all SFU campuses in an effort to remind SFU administration whose labour makes university services possible. Like many classes, GSWS 333 has been cancelled in an effort to support strike action.
A cancelled class does not mean that conversation about course material should end. As a way to facilitate more virtual conversation over the course of this week, the format of the content will take a slightly different shape. In addition to this overview page, there will be four separate blog posts, one for each of the week’s readings. Students were asked to read the Kern chapters and one of the other three texts. Thus, students can use the posts to reflect and comment on the text that they read and get a sense for the content and conversation about the texts that they didn’t read.
As the authors of this week’s texts demonstrate, citizenship and community can be defined and practiced in multiple ways. Moreover, the texts illustrate how these concepts (and their praxis) are driven and constrained by myriad factors: gender norms, class context, economic change, the way that urban redevelopment is framed and reproduced through media discourses, etc.
van Eijk speaks to these points indirectly, focusing instead on un-settling the primacy of economic theory as the central (or only) driver of urban change. Yet, her efforts to demonstrate the importance of social difference in urban policies offer relevant insights about how certain practices are valued and expected of urban citizens and members of urban communities. What van Eijk did not talk about was where newcomers were expected to learn about such practices and expectations. For me, this segues easily into a re-visiting of the Simonsen & Koefeld article we read earlier this term and its discussion of the figure of the stranger. Together, these texts assert the complicated function of social difference in the city and in urban policy.
Kern highlights how neoliberal economic measures – like support and incentives for home ownership, as well as a reduction in the supply of rental units (Recall Alan Walks’ report on Toronto’s social housing that we read earlier in the semester) – and individual-centric discourses work hand-in-hand to shape the market for condo buyers, as well as the culture of that market. “Liveability” in the downtown core becomes commodified: those who have access to the benefits of these private developments are those who can afford them. Under this model, urban citizenship reflects this disconnect. The provision and use of amenities like neighbourhood walkability and access to transit are conceived not as public goods; instead, they have become a function of “lifestyle choice”. As Kern shows, gender is central to the re-making of the central city. Security, social connectedness, empowerment…all of these concepts are touted by condo developers, in ways that are fundamentally inflected with gendered connotations. (While Kern speaks only about women in this text, gender here does not only refer to women. Take a look at this discussion of masculinity and the “hipster male” and think about it in relation to how urbanity is defined and (how it “supposed” to be) practiced.)
Both of the readings that focus on youth and activism as citizenship (Bosco et al and Driskell et al) present a familiar picture of citizenship-in-development. The authors emphasize the significance of participation in the public sphere, and they note how active citizens (whether mothers or youth) confront the boundaries of acceptability with their activism. Moreover, the subjects of both texts are constrained by the notion that they are “becoming-citizens” (or not-quite citizens), whether because of legal status or because of age.
More on urban citizenship and some deconstruction of community on the text posts. Join us!