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Civic action and urban shrinkage: Exploring the link

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In Europe, urban shrinkage is a widespread phenomenon with future relevance. To date, most academic and policy literature has explored the spatial impacts of this phenomenon, focusing on the infrastructure side (hardware), whereas social aspects of urban shrinkage (software) have been mostly overlooked. This paper indicates the gap regarding the software aspects of urban shrinkage. It examines the link between civic action and urban shrinkage, and finds that the concept of civic action is often promoted as a normative requirement for maintaining an area’s quality of life. In the authors’ view, social capital and civic action in the context of urban shrinkage could be valuable resources, but should not be overrated. In this respect, the authors identify and illustrate three scenarios of civic action in the context of urban shrinkage, namely (1) increased civic action, (2) no change in civic action and (3) reduced civic action. They conclude that a social theory of urban shrinkage is needed to give the debate on urban shrinkage a new impulse.
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Keywords: Urban shrinkage; civic action; quality of life; shrinking cities; social capital

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2016

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  • Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal is the essential peer-reviewed journal for all professionals concerned with physical, economic and social regeneration of urban communities. It publishes in-depth articles and real world case studies on the latest strategy, policy making and current and best practice in the field. Guided by its expert Editor and Editorial Board, each quarterly 100-page issue does not publish advertising but rather in-depth articles written by and for urban regeneration professionals analysing current and best practice in the planning, consultation, funding, delivery and long-term management of regeneration programmes, as well as the latest policy making, developments and research in the field.

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