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Social deprivation and urbanity as the elephant in the room

  • Mirek Dymitrow
  • Rene Brauer
  • Recep Efe
  • Turgut Tüzün Onay
  • Igor Sharuho
  • Emin Atasoy
Publiceringsår: 2014
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 381-395
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Urban and urbanization
Dokumenttyp: Del av eller Kapitel i bok
Förlag: Universitetsko izdatelstvo ”Sv. Kliment Ohridski”, Sofia

Abstract english

Social deprivation and marginalization in urban areas are hardships that are not necessarily limited to developing countries. Around 80 million Europeans today live in conditions that fall within the definition of poverty. However, certain areas are more prone to affliction than others. Such estates usually consist of concrete slab high-rise buildings and are often characterized by high levels of ethnic segregation, unemployment and crime, as well as low levels of education and health. In the Swedish equivalent of this type of environments, the current situation is not encouraging despite the multitude of urban development programs launched to address the issues at hand. Not only does the condition not improve, it deteriorates. In a wish to eschew conventional explanations of failure, we instead turn our attention towards some more systemic flaws in the conceptual design of these programs, arguing that one of these flaws could be the biggest and most obvious of them all – the idiomatic ‘elephant in the room’. In this chapter, we undertake a discussion about the probability that, in areas where social deprivation is the greatest, not all signifiers of the presumed concept of urbanity are met. Hence, rigid adherence to ‘urbanity’ as a guiding force in development programs might in fact contribute to counterproductive plans of action. In short, an urban development project may lack a satisfactory urban foundation and, by lack of congruence with the formulated ideation of urbanity, is likely to fail. On the basis of experiences from two Swedish suburbs, we problematize ‘the urban’ – or simply ‘the urban bias’ – in large-scale actions set to target complex issues of social deprivation, whose character may not easily align with a conceptual rural-urban axis. We conclude that more context-sensitive understanding of the human condition beyond inflexible labeling could help arrive at more accurate inferences.


  • Social and Economic Geography
  • urbanity
  • rural-urban
  • social deprivation
  • development program
  • non-essentialism


  • ISBN: 978-954-07-3772-0
  • ISBN: 978-954-07-3772-0
E-post: mirek [dot] dymitrow [at] keg [dot] lu [dot] se

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