Envisioning liveability and do-it-together urban development

Authored by: Helen Jarvis

The Routledge Handbook on Spaces of Urban Politics

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138890329
eBook ISBN: 9781315712468
Adobe ISBN:


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A common challenge for cities and urban politics today is to restore a culture of liveability. What this entails in practice is heavily contested. Liveability is typically defined by the extent to which a place can attract and retain its population (homes, jobs, transport and the like); one with a good quality of life that makes provision for children and older people, clean air, green spaces, social and spiritual belonging, heritage and cultural sites. In many respects the concept of liveability reiterates parallel efforts to model urban development around ideas of “sustainable” and “harmonious” cities, “gender mainstreaming”, UNICEF’s “child-friendly city” and the WHO’s “age-friendly city” global initiative (Buffel et al. 2012: 598). Fundamental to each place-based policy is an incomplete shift from “top-down” physical environmental development to “bottom-up governance”, through resident participation. This chapter extends this transition to suggest that “a city for all” implies the right to “make and remake our cities and ourselves” through opportunities to appropriate urban space (such as ordinary streets) and to participate, individually, collectively and collaboratively, in decision-making surrounding the production of urban space (Harvey 2009: 315; Purcell 2003: 577).

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