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Social Platform on Cities and Social Cohesion

Final Report Summary - SOCIAL POLIS (Social Platform on Cities and Social Cohesion)

Executive Summary:
SOCIAL POLIS: the Social Platform on Cities and Social Cohesion' is an EU project funded under the 7th Framework Programme. It is a social platform for stakeholder consultation and, in this way, it has been a new step forward in engaging a wide range of individuals, organisations, groups and communities in the development of a research agenda on 'Cities and Social Cohesion' for the SSH Framework Programme 7 of the European Commission. The aim has been to draw upon the combined experience, knowledge and views of urban practitioners and researchers who work on strengthening cohesion, integration, and inclusion in European cities as well as cities in other continents.

SOCIAL POLIS has involved over 250 stakeholders from various sectors - NGO, community, policy, private for-profit - as well as an interdisciplinary community of researchers in Europe, South and North America, Africa, Asia, and Australia in a debate on Cities and Social Cohesion. Communication between all those engaging in the platform and with those outside included a user-friendly, interactive website or 'meeting-rooms' equipped with information-finding, information-sharing and discussion facilities. The SOCIAL POLIS consortium and its Stakeholders held a series of specific stakeholder oriented events as well as a large-scale stakeholder conference. To promote research and encourage policy initiatives on social cohesion in the city, the consortium and its stakeholders have built a sustained social platform and worked together towards new transdisciplinary methodologies and fine-tuning research agendas. They have formulated challenges and topics for the Work Programme 2010-2013 of the 7th Framework Programme (local welfare systems, governance of diversity in European cities). The overall objective was approached on two fronts: critical analysis of research to date; and construction of a social platform of networks for information gathering, dialogue and agenda setting. The networks have been unrolled from the research and stakeholder cores from which the project started, using snowball methods to reach other communities of stakeholders.

Four substantive contributions of SOCIAL POLIS

1) A survey of a range of urban fields providing a focussed, critical review of research on cities and social cohesion, to be published as a special issue of Urban Studies in 2012;

2) A focussed agenda of effective research proposed for FP7 comprising of 2 challenges and 5 topics;

3) Establishment of a common 'social platform' hosting scientific, policy and practice communities to these purposes;

4) Educational resources for stakeholders and interactive website
Project Context and Objectives:
Project context and objectives

Social cohesion debates, in general, focus strongly on social inclusion as a multi-dimensional process with multiple agencies seeking to include effectively- or potentially-excluded workers, citizens, consumers, students, ethnicities, etc.... into society. This has led to an understanding of social cohesion as cutting across different types of citizenships, group identities and inter-group dialogues, resulting in pleas for enlarged notions of citizenship and treatments of social inclusion as a process of making democracy more democratic, by applying it in a diversity of life spheres and social communities.

Since social cohesion concerns society as a whole, at multiple spatial scales, beyond issues of inequality, exclusion and inclusion, and across public, market and voluntary sectors, 'Social Polis' assembles multiple dimensions of relevant debates (on economy, polity, society, culture, ethics) across the city and a variety of life spheres. To facilitate analysis of the highly interlinked dynamics involved in social cohesion, a range of specific fields affecting people's existence need to be focussed upon, such as: welfare and social services; labour markets and economic development; built environment, housing and health; mobility, telecommunications and security; urban ecology and environment; governance; education and training; urban and regional inequalities; diversity and identity; creativity and innovation; neighbourhood development and grassroots initiatives; and, social cohesion and the city as a whole. In addition, particular transversal dynamics running across these need to be identified.

The project objectives and activities were divided into various workpackages. Specific actions under each work package with timelines are follows:

Work Package 1: Support to defining topic for initial Call for Proposals (Months M1-M4)

* Establish an initial network of leading researchers;

* Organise the first Coordination Meeting, also involving a select group of stakeholders from Researcher Network and Stakeholder Network 1;

* Organise stakeholders for each of the Existential Fields beyond the scientific core (implementing moment 1 of social platform building) allowing their contributions to the deliverables;

* Review the State of the Art in eleven existential fields identified earlier, and 'Social Cohesion and the city as a whole' mainly as covered in conclusions and recommendations of FP4, 5 and 6 research. To this purpose, the coordinators of the relevant research projects to be contacted and interviewed, and final reports to be read;

* Produce a report as a contribution to the preparation of call topic on cities and social cohesion.

Work Package 2: First extension of network (M4-M9)

* Bring together Stakeholder Network 1 to debate;

* Consult on the Open Research Agenda at a Workshop;

* Refine the Open Research Agenda and produce a Focused Research Agenda, as a basis for a wider consultation on 'Cities and Social Cohesion'.

Work Package 3: Second extension of network (M10-M18)

* Finalise membership of the stakeholder network 2;

* Preparations for a large scale stakeholder conference;

* Discussions for consolidation of Social Platform (to be carried out in WP4).

Work Package 4: Consolidation of the Platform - The Research Agenda (M13-M24)

* Organise a general Stakeholders Conference;

* Prepare draft Research Agenda for a general debate;

* Produce and publish proceedings of the stakeholder conference;

* Consolidate the structure and operation of 'Social Polis' as a social platform.

Work Package 5: Communication, dissemination and provision of educational resources

* Intensive communication within the consortium;

* Communication with the stakeholders;

* Dissemination of foreground;

* Provision of educational resources;

Work Package 6: Scientific Coordination

* Overall coordination and management of the scientific Work Packages.

Work Package 7: User group coordination

* Build the social platform with strong networks throughout the scientific, government, private and non-government/not-for-profit sectors, with participation from all member states and interested organisations from outside Europe;

* Intensive communication between the scientific core and the researcher and stakeholder networks throughout the building of the social platform.

Work Package 8 Finance and Administration

* Overall management of project finances;

* General administrative and organisational support for delivery of milestones, particularly workshops and conferences.

'Addendum No.1 to Annexure I' in the project extended period

At the end of the initially contracted two years period, an extension of 12 months was granted by the Commission. Objectives for the extended period in relation with the on-going workpackages included:

* Continue from the project's ambitions to further the European agenda for social cohesion in the city;

* Finalise the Focussed Research Agenda for researching urban social cohesion in Europe;

* Hold five local workshops in different cities; Target at the dissemination and popularization of the results of Social Polis for a broader public at the local and European level;

* Each workshop to cover a specific aspect of Social Polis and connect it to the local and context specific interests and the working realities of the participants; Documentation of the local workshops into a common language (English).

* Organise an international event to promote a collective learning process in which the knowledge produced in Social Polis can be divulged and multiplied; Focus on stimulating the actors and local stakeholders.

* Produce relevant and innovative tools for mutual learning between the academic and non-academic spheres;

* Popularise the results of Social Polis and make it relevant and useful for the broader public;

* Improve the already existing educational resources after collecting feedback from the Platform.

* Revise guidelines to a transdisciplinary approach to social cohesion in the city

* Keep all project partners and stakeholders regularly informed with the latest practical developments in the areas of urban social cohesion, through regular newsletters;

* Finalise the survey papers for publication into a peer-reviewed research journal for higher academic impact and dissemination.

Activities to achieve objectives

* The consortium established a network of leading researchers, who worked on the critical review of research on cities and social cohesion for the following Existential Fields:

EF1: Local Welfare and Social Services (Lead Partner: P7 - UNIMIB);

EF2: Labour markets and economic (Lead Partner: P3 -ITER);

EF3: Housing, Neighbourhood and Health (Lead Partner: P1 - UNEW);

EF4: Mobility, telecommunications, security (Lead Partner: P1 - UNEW);

EF5: Urban Ecology and Environment (Lead Partner: P11 - UNIMAN);

EF6: Governance (Lead Partner: P10 - UB);

EF7: Education and Training (Lead Partner: P6 - CEG-UL);

EF8: Urban and regional inequalities (Lead Partner: P9 - ISEG-KUL)

EF9: Diversity and Identity (Lead Partner: P2 - Amidst);

EF10: Creativity and Innovation (Lead Partner: P5 - CRISES);

EF11: Neighbourhood development and grassroots initiatives (Lead Partner: P8 - CRIDA);

EF12: 'Social Cohesion and the City as a Whole' (Lead Partner: P4 - WU Wien).

* Lead Partners held project and policy meetings on regular basis, and worked in a step-wise procedure towards a Focused Research Agenda;

* The consortium established a secretariat, project mailing lists, and involved in systematic on-line communication with stakeholders, while at the same time ensuring that the set up continues to perform albeit with minimal resources - through mutual aid- even after the Platform stops receiving EU funding.

* Lead Partners held various local Stakeholder Workshops and meetings focusing on local context specific interests;

* Social Polis funded and supported 9 international workshops, organised genuinely by stakeholders in Europe and Americas;

* In conclusion a 'European Learning Event' was organised in Brussels for knowledge sharing between academics, policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders. A follow-up workshop will be organised in Milan in September 2011.

Results achieved

* The final version of Focused Research Agenda comprising of call-texts for 2 societal challenges and 5 topics for the 7th Framework Programme has been thoroughly discussed with stakeholders and delivered to the European Commission;

* Earlier suggestions for 1 topic (for FP7 2010 Call) and 1 challenge (FP7 2011 Call) resulted in a call on 'Local Welfare Systems' being published in the Work Programme 2010 of the 7th Framework Programme;

* A large scale Workshop in Brussels was held in Brussels on 27-28 May 2008 involving 100 stakeholders;

* A large scale Stakeholder Conference was held in Vienna on 11-12 May 2009 involving 50 researchers and 150 stakeholders;

* 9 international workshops funded by Social Polis and organised genuinely by stakeholders in Europe and Americas;

* 15 local stakeholder workshops organised by Lead Partners;

* 13 focused survey papers covering 11 Social Polis Existential Fields plus an onset of EF12: 'Social Cohesion and the City as a Whole' and a conceptual paper on social cohesion;

* Publication of the survey papers in a Special Issue of Urban Studies, a high-impact peer-reviewed scientific research journal (Spring 2012);

* An interactive website launched in May 2008 and regularly updated thereafter. Over 60 documents produced by the coordination team, Lead Partners, and stakeholders, and more than 500 related documents and links have been published on the website. The website serves as an interactive tool which enables all users to access and upload documents related to 'Cities and Social Cohesion', as well as a contact point for the Social Polis consortium and user groups. It remains operational after the conclusion of EC contract period;

* Two Stakeholder Networks (1 & 2), the Social Polis Inner Circle, and a number of external stakeholders, comprising of 300 members of policy and practice communities have been brought into the debate;

* A sustainable social platform has been established;

* A broad dissemination of the results of Social Polis among different communities of practice and localities;

* Production of discussion and dissemination material in the respective local languages;

* Involvement of new local stakeholders.

Substantive contributions

SOCIAL POLIS has made four substantive contributions:

* A focussed, critical review of research on cities and social cohesion;

* A focused agenda for effective research proposed for the 7th Framework Programme;

* Establishment of an open, multi-layered network concerned with research, policy and practice about cities and social cohesion;

* Production of educational resources for stakeholders;

* Development of a transdisciplinary research methodology for analysing social cohesion issues in cities.

Potential impact and use

As a coordination and support action, Social Polis has been critically concerned with stakeholder involvement and providing useable outcomes, with the following expected impact:

1. Advance the scientific state of the art on 'Cities and Social Cohesion';

2. Contribute to future FP7 calls on 'Cities and Social Cohesion';

3. Enhance cooperation between researchers in Europe and in other geographic regions in the research areas covered by the project;

4. Devise strategies to involve relevant communities, stakeholders, practitioners in the making of research and the diffusion of its results;

5. Provide knowledge that will support relevant policies and other types of collective action and public governance initiatives and thus contribute to strengthening social cohesion in European cities;

6. Social Polis as an exemplar (for collection) of local knowledge alliances on social cohesion in Europe

7. Guidelines to a transdisciplinary approach to urban social cohesion.
Project Results:
Main Results and Foregrounds

Part I: The development of the platform

The strategy included a series of steps to unroll the social platform. First, the Partners started with an initial network of European scientists involved in social cohesion research Scientific Core, to review the State of the Art of the social cohesion problematic and develop a report at the Workshop with Scientific Core, Researchers Network and representatives from Stakeholders Network 1. Second, the 'society of stakeholders' was extended involving other significant stakeholder groups with an interest in social cohesion and/or urban policy, with looser or indirect previous involvement with the scientific core, or no such previous involvement (Stakeholders Network 2). Third, the consortium together with stakeholder networks worked to refine and focus the research agenda for further calls for proposals under the 7th Framework Programme. Fourth, the structure and operation of the social platform consortium was consolidated by establishing a range of on-going research themes, cooperative forums, dissemination modes, as well as producing educational resources and training sites.

Specific modes of involvement of stakeholders with SOCIAL POLIS evolved over time along with unrolling stakeholder networks and the elaboration of the Focused Research Agenda for the 7th Framework programme. Amongst others, these included a large-scale workshop and conference, local and international stakeholder workshops and meetings, and communication through the project website and other online tools.

1) Mobilising Stakeholder Network 1: The Stakeholders Network 1 comprising of stakeholders with whom the core partners had worked through joint research, was mobilised into debate in the first months of the project. Since social cohesion concerns society as a whole, at multiple spatial scales, beyond issues of inequality, exclusion and inclusion, and across public, market and voluntary sectors, SOCIAL POLIS assembled multiple dimensions of relevant debates (on economy, polity, society, culture, ethics) across the city as a whole and a variety of life spheres.

To facilitate analysis of the highly interlinked dynamics involved in the issue, 12 urban Existential Fields affecting people's existence were identified and focussed upon: welfare and social services; labour markets and economic development; built environment, housing and health; mobility, telecommunications and security; urban ecology and environment; governance; education and training; urban and regional inequalities; diversity and identity; creativity and innovation; neighbourhood development and grassroots initiatives; and social cohesion and the city as a whole. Each of the SOCIAL POLIS Lead Partners was responsible for involvement of stakeholders - locally and internationally - in debates on a particular Existential Field.

The large scale Launching Workshop which involved 100 people was organised by the SOCIAL POLIS consortium and the European Commission in Brussels on the 27th and 28th of May 2009. This workshop focused on the elaboration of an open research agenda (D1.2) produced in a form of 12 research reviews of previous FP projects where research gaps were indicated. The present stakeholders - including Stakeholders Network 1 as well as prominent representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament, and European umbrella networks such as EUROCITIES or Social Platform - expressed research needs and priorities arising from their sectors and geo-regions, contributing to the production of a long list of potential topics to be taken into consideration.

2) Unrolling Stakeholder Network 2: The Launching Workshop in Brussels gave also a great opportunity for involvement of new stakeholders. The process started just after the workshop and was continued until the large-scale stakeholder conference in Vienna on the 11th and 12th of May 2009 using snowballing methods and other tools for involvement. 250 stakeholders were brought into a multi-layered and plural debate including organisations of deprived citizens and migrants, civil society organisations involved in combating social exclusion and building creative strategies to overcome it, local and regional authorities, organisations of cities and regions involved in 'urban social policy', the European Commission (DG EMPLOYMENT, DG REGIO) and Council of Europe, as well as researchers and networks (e.g. EURA and EUKN), and other FP projects. Shortly after the Brussels workshop, as a result of the interaction with scientific officers from the Commission, a decision was also taken to organise the research agenda in more transversal way rather than according to urban Existential Fields. The Stakeholders Network 2 had a key impact on the process of recalibrating and focusing the transversal research agenda.

3) Involvement of the Inner Circle of stakeholders: The Social Polis Inner Circle of Stakeholders, which includes leaders and influential participants of various networks within their sectors, leaders of European and worldwide umbrella organizations (e.g. EUKN, CECODHAS, and UN-HABITAT), and representatives of the European Commission, was thought as a 'real time' sounding board for generating ideas, advice, initiatives and themes for future research Inner Circle stakeholders. Inner Circle stakeholders became fully operational in September 2008 and since then have been co-deciding together with coordinators and Lead Partners upon most important issues in SOCIAL POLIS, such as prioritizing topics proposed to the 7th Framework Programme, the evaluation of stakeholder applications for small grants, and the structure and rationale of the Vienna conference. Amongst others, the modes of communication between the Social Polis consortium and the Inner Circle of stakeholders included exchange of discussion notes, such as comments on Social Polis documents and actions, ad hoc meetings in Brussels, and collaborative production of strategic texts.

4) SOCIAL POLIS website and SOCIAL POLIS blogs: The project website was launched in May 2008 and since then regularly updated. The website serves as an interactive tool which enables all users to access and upload documents related to 'Cities and Social Cohesion', as well as contact Social Polis consortium and user groups. Over 100 documents produced by the coordination team, Lead Partners, and stakeholders, and more than 500 related documents and links have been published on the website. All publishable outputs and resources of the project, and resources sent by the stakeholders were made freely accessible to the public. Unpublished working papers (drafts, existential field surveys, open and focussed research agendas, discussion papers) were made available on a password-protected basis requiring users to respect confidentiality and/or other caveats. Links to any electronic discussion groups associated with the project or other websites relevant for social cohesion are also accessible from the website. Second, a user-friendly blog of the Vienna Conference was launched in May 2009 to facilitate the exchange of resources and ideas among the delegates. Third, the Social Polis consortium subcontracted the Surt Foundation to develop a blog where innovative audio-visual resources were made accessible to stakeholders (

5) Social Polis Newsletter: SOCIAL POLIS Newsletter was launched in October 2008 to inform stakeholders on activities of the platform, involve them in future actions, and publicise Social Polis outside the platform. Amongst others, this newsletter, which has been issued on a monthly basis, included information on the development of the platform, the process of elaboration of the Focused Research Agenda, and funding opportunities for stakeholders, as well as offered all individuals and groups involved with SOCIAL POLIS an opportunity for sharing information and ideas with all other parties.

6) Stakeholder workshops: A number of international and regional local stakeholder workshops were organised to enhance cooperation between academic and non-academic participants, and to produce the Focused Research Agenda for the future. Non-academic groups and organisations were invited to apply for a SOCIAL POLIS workshop grant to take a leading role in selecting topics and recruiting participants. As a result 8 international stakeholder workshops were organised under SOCIAL POLIS small grants scheme genuinely by stakeholders in Malmö, Santiago de Chile, Paris, Barcelona, Manchester, Milan, Brussels, and Budapest. Additionally, a number of local stakeholder workshops were held in different European cities. These workshops and meetings were particularly appreciated by the 'society of stakeholders' as they offered an opportunity for strengthening local networks, and discussing local problems and linking them to European agendas.

7) Small grants for presentations at the SOCIAL POLIS conference in Vienna and educational resources: After a great success of stakeholder workshops grants coordinators took a decision to fund the preparation of presentations and audio-visual materials to be presented during thematic sessions at the stakeholder conference in Vienna. At the end of the duration of the project small grants a similar scheme was also used to fund the production of educational resources popularizing Social Polis survey results.

8) SOCIAL POLIS Stakeholder Conference in Vienna: SOCIAL POLIS large-scale Stakeholder Conference was held at the University of Economics in Vienna. The conference brought together 200 stakeholders from various sectors - NGO, community, policy, private for-profit - as well as interdisciplinary community of researchers from Europe, South and North America, Africa, and Asia to discuss research, policy and practice issues related to social cohesion in urban environments. The conference programme included plenary sessions with presentations from project Lead Partners and stakeholders, working groups on research fields of SOCIAL POLIS, thematic working groups, discussion roundtables for exchange of ideas and experiences, as well as exhibitions on projects, organisations and cities, theatre play, and excursions to Viennese socially creative areas. All plenary sessions were followed by discussion roundtables for exchange of ideas and experiences organised in the World Café format which enabled spontaneous formation of discussion groups, democratic exchange of ideas of all participants, and further integration of stakeholder networks through focused discussions in small boards. In each of 3 World Café rounds - which focused on stakeholder expectations from and contributions to the future of the Social Platform - delegates could choose one of 20 tables where a debate was facilitated in a nice and inviting atmosphere. The ideas expressed in World Cafés were brought into plenary discussions, displayed in a form of a graphic collage of ideas on walls in the main conference hall, and included in conference documentation.

9) Collaborative editing process: Stakeholders were invited to take a role of co-editors of call-texts for challenges and topics. More than 20 stakeholders worked together towards the production of final call-texts.


Social Polis showed the capacity to bring together in an innovative way researchers and stakeholders to develop a holistic and integrated comprehension of social cohesion in cities. It demonstrated, quite clearly, that in order for it to be socially relevant, research has to involve in a non-vertical, cooperative way, stakeholders and other relevant agents working on the field. The specific achievements include:

1) Multilayered and plural space of debate: A major achievement of the platform has been the consolidation of a forum debating on urban social cohesion issues bringing together the experience and knowledge of scientific teams and broad diversity of social actors (stakeholders) from different places and institutional and civil society profiles. On the one hand, SOCIAL POLIS offered an open and inspiring climate, with a particularly low threshold for exchange. On the other, the engagement of several prominent stakeholders concerned with research, policy and practice about cities and social cohesion, enriched the debate within the platform, covering a variety of cultures, knowledge, visions and approaches, so allowing a multi-layered and plural discussion.

2) Conceptual discussion of social cohesion and its importance for particular urban spheres and the city as a whole: the debate revolving around social cohesion from the specific perspective of cities and urban spaces was very prolific and filled an important gap in contemporary urban studies. An innovative conceptual approach to social cohesion in cities that takes the multidimensionality into consideration, overcoming fragmented analyses and strategies in the cultural, social and economic domain has been developed. The discussion of the concept of social cohesion with local, European, and global networks of stakeholders has been particularly fruitful as it allowed actors to acknowledge the different interpretation of the concept vis-à-vis specific urban Existential Fields (see: Part 3: SOCIAL POLIS Survey Papers). As a result of the involvement of researchers, policy makers and other parties concerned with urban issues, not only many stakeholders have become connected, but also a broad variety of themes have been covered, discussed, interrelated, and prioritised. Amongst others, the Latin-American Workshop was very important for rethinking social cohesion from a different perspective, involving equity, gender, diversity, youth and democracy issues. Moreover, a number of new connections were created between themes, offering new (policy) approaches to particular topics.

3) Policy implications and the influence on the EU agenda: the social platform has been instrumental to overcome the fragmentation and isolation that affects the diverse policy fields dealing with social cohesion issues. Crucial benefits for the stakeholders from this process consisted in their ability to voice, via the platform, their views to the other platform members, to the EU and other policy-makers, as well as the ability to co-shape the agenda of research on social cohesion.

4) Experience and knowledge on transdisciplinary methodology: the building process of this social platform led to a considerable amount of experience and knowledge about transdisciplinary methodology and methods of communication and interaction between representatives of the different fields (including the awareness of difficulties and conflicts). Through this platform the Partners had a chance to further develop their skills for transdisciplinary research and theory-practice dialogue, as well as research-action methods. The Vienna conference, where partners tested new joyful communication tools such as World Café, served as a laboratory for cross-sectoral and intercultural communication with stakeholders.

5) Knowledge resource base: various disjointed facets of social cohesion have been now, probably for the first time, incorporated into a comprehensive platform that has permitted an extraordinary degree of integration, transversal analysis and mutual learning. The outcome has been the creation of an extraordinary intellectual and knowledge resource base that provides a unique collective for initiating, assessing, evaluating and proposing a variety of issues, strategies, approaches and insights with respect to the problematic of social cohesion and the city. Amongst others, educational resources were produced by SOCIAL POLIS stakeholders - Surt Foundation and South Sweden Group - as a result of translating the survey papers on urban Existential Fields into accessible and user-friendly online tools. A permanent reservoir of knowledge and expertise, rooted in civil society, has thus been created.

6) Dissemination: the social platform has been instrumental in translating and relaying the produced knowledge and information to other domains, notably by means of academic and popular publications, local, national and international workshops, web-based dissemination, video, educational resources and the like. Several high level publications including a Special Issue of Urban Studies on 'Cities and Social Cohesion were prepared and all teams participated in a range of activities over the three years to communicate, disseminate and collaborate with others working on the theme of urban social cohesion.

7) Mutual learning: in particular, the academic partners have benefitted from the sustained input of ideas, concepts, perspectives and issues by the sustained consultation with stakeholders (civil society, businesses, policy makers), while the latter have proven to be pivotal in contributing to debates and, more importantly, in addressing and identifying the key domains that require further scholarly and policy attention. Social Polis stakeholders took advantage of their involvement for revisiting their own action and for better understanding of their role within various practice and policy networks. According to their own judgement, stakeholders are now much more aware of constitutive procedural steps of action allowing them to incorporate academic ideas into their own work giving it a more consistent conceptual rationale. The transdisciplinary methodologies and innovative communication tools such as World Café were not only something stakeholders enjoyed, but also something they already used in their local networks as a way to facilitate discussion and enhance participation. Moreover, the European-based platform has been enhanced with partners and stakeholders from other parts of the world, Latin America in particular, assuring not only exchange of information but facilitating and guaranteeing a global process of mutual learning that further extends and deepens the collective knowledge resource-base.

8) Networking: last but not least, SOCIAL POLIS, being a platform organised around an interplay of local and European and global activities, has created an opportunity for stakeholders from different backgrounds and countries to get in touch with each other and to exchange knowledge, experience, and practice. The capabilities and relationships developed not only between researchers and other communities but also between local and European stakeholders working towards social cohesion in different urban fields that can be very useful for the purpose of future cooperation. Stakeholder involvement for each Existential Field pursued combined mobilisation of local/regional stakeholders which opened up new avenues for co-operation, and linked local stakeholders with the international network of the platform, thereby establishing mutually beneficial local-transnational networks and collaboration within and beyond different thematic networks. Previous local and European networks of stakeholders were consolidated giving them a chance for better recognition of different advantages of belonging to such networks. Finally, new collaboration networks with civil society and policy stakeholders have been established involving their members in joint actions and new projects that are currently under consideration for funding.

Future of the social platform

1) Challenges for the future: The objectives aimed at by Social Polis have been ambitious from the beginning and intended to create sustainable and reliable ties between hitherto diverse communities of theory and practice. All initial objectives having been successfully achieved, such an ambitious task of re-orienting research, urban activism and policy-making, which inevitably leads to the emergence of new challenges for the participants of the social platform of SOCIAL POLIS. The critical evaluation of strengths and weaknesses of the work over the last three years clearly shows that there is much more to be done. To put it in a nutshell, the richness of the dialogue and mutual learning achieved in SOCIAL POLIS calls for a sustainable continuation of the platform, based on the following strategic efforts:

* Making urban social cohesion a priority: the Platform and the collective formulation of an agenda on cities and social cohesion did not only fulfil the aims of the project but also created a strong awareness of the importance of the topic of social cohesion in European cities. Substantial knowledge, which emerged from and is embedded in different communities of practice, was produced and should not stay within the limits of this platform. There is a strong need for further dissemination, popularisation and lobbying of the results of SOCIAL POLIS on cities and social cohesion at the local, national, regional, European and global level - perhaps a mobilisation towards publishing policy briefs and green papers on social cohesion in the city;

* Implementing knowledge and fostering stakeholders' involvement in research: establishing such a platform for collaboration is no easy task. It has taken three years of constructing the platform, not simply officially created, but as a real space for actual dialogue and cooperation which is far more complex than writing down a vast list of participants in a couple of events. A methodology for achieving this necessarily has to be context dependent and constantly adapted. Therefore, SOCIAL POLIS can be called a learning platform. But a longer maturation process is required for such a platform to become a self-organising network. Therefore, starting from the experiences of Social Polis, methods of collaboration in research and practice must be further documented, developed, tested and evaluated;

* Tackling the issues: in Social Polis we identified important themes and challenges for social cohesion in the cities, with which our stakeholders are confronted in their everyday work. This process raised expectations among the representatives from the policy making and social activism worlds and the next step must be to tackle these issues in a more structured manner.

2) Extension of the activities: Originally planned for a two years' period, SOCIAL POLIS was given a 12 months extension to organise the following activities:

* Work on a "European Agenda for researching social cohesion in the city" on the basis of the methodological principles of Social Polis, which could be taken up at different levels, from EU to national to local, by those supporting or doing research;

* Adapt the educational resources of Social Polis, preparing them to be collectively discussed in learning events and with knowledge exchange tools by stakeholders and academics;

* Organise, implement and coordinate a process of collective discussion and development of the educational resources, methodological principles and the agenda.

* Disseminate the initiatives by:

o Producing materials on the results of the discussion processes, connect and feed the discussion process back into the educational resources, produce revised methodological guidelines;

o Promote mutual learning and exchange by means of the discussion of the above documents in small localised workshops in five different European cities in a decentralized manner;

o Promote European level exchange in three ways:

* Cooperation with European Networks partners (e.g. Eurocities, URBAN-NET, etc);

* Electronic discussions by digital learning and networking tools;

* Organising one Europe-wide learning event, with around forty participants (stakeholders and academics) to valorise and disseminate the jointly elaborated research agenda on urban social cohesion.

* Develop online communication tools for creating spaces for learning and networking: continuation and adaptation of Social Polis website, creation and monitoring of electronic means of networking, exchange of practices and learning (online meeting, tools for document sharing and online commenting through website)

* Continuation of Publication of the Newsletter.

* Editing and publication of the survey papers (as special issue of Urban Studies 2012).

Other initiatives

Besides the extension of SOCIAL POLIS for one year, several Lead Partners have continued to work on various initiatives relating to urban social cohesion at local and European level. Future local and regional initiatives include organisation of a number of local and international stakeholder workshops, holding special sessions at international conferences, participation in research, practice, and policy community meetings and conferences, joint applications for funding under local schemes, and proposals for permanent institutionalisation of local networks.

Part II: Future research agenda For Europe

CHALLENGE 1: Urban social cohesion in the face of global changes, crises, and opportunities

Rose Gilroy, Lucia Cavola, Paola Di Martino, Felicitas Hillmann, Konrad Miciukiewicz, Enrica Morlicchio, Hudita Mustafa, Philip O'Connor

1.1. The challenge: The current global economic crisis provides a diagnostic event through which to understand and analyze long evolving multi-scalar, gendered processes of change which have been veiled till now and an opportunity to focus on their impacts on urban social cohesion. These shifts in the globalised economy have rippled through labour markets, occupational hierarchies, migration and integration, cultures and conditions of work as well as consumption of services, and gender and family relations in the European urban context. This period of financialisation and globalisation has also been characterised by accelerated urbanisation and these three processes have enlarged the role of cities so that they have become producers of social realities themselves offering different life scripts and mobility options for residents according to their place. The rise and spread of neo-liberal regimes has signalled the retreat of the welfare state that may present a further threat to social cohesion by reducing support to those already affected by social fragmentation. Within all of these processes it should be examined whether there are opportunities for new and alternative forms of social and spatial organisation that might have continuance beyond the current crisis.

1.2. Why it matters for Europe: For Europe the global changes of polarisation, segregation and financialisation have a profound and multi faceted impact at the urban level, with particular regard to the following issues:

* Current economic crises which may be increasing and/or modifying processes of social disintegration/re-articulation already underway as a result of the gradual incorporation of European cities into global networks. These processes may relate to urban labour and real estate markets but impact deeply on the "buffer systems" that traditionally absorbed social conflict and social tensions. They therefore represent a major threat to the future social cohesion of cities.

* The consequent retraction of public and private sector investment impacts on place and life chances of those already marginalised, creating new and strengthening existing socio-spatial inequalities. Rapidly changing economic opportunities and the closing down of pathways to better lifestyle options have not only a profound impact on increasing migration both within the EU and from outside Europe, but also fuel new debates on migration, and raise new fears and hatreds in host countries.

1.3. Addressing the challenge: The challenge should be addressed through a balanced combination of research work and complementary activities. The research should allow different views or disciplines to address the challenge from different perspectives. Scientific steering should enhance transdisciplinary, scale-sensitive, and integrative knowledge of globally in-connected urban systems.

Complementary activities (such as stock taking/audits, foresight, dissemination and management activities in particular) should buttress research with a view to enhancing an effective management of research and its relevance for research per se and for current as well as future public policies.

1.4. Research dimensions to be taken into consideration

* The impact of the global economic downturn on urban labour markets, occupational hierarchies, and the migration flows between European states and into Europe. An assessment of how these processes in the economic arena ripple through to create or accelerate social processes of fragmentation and residential segregation. What effect does this have on social representation of, political thinking on, and policy-making for vulnerable groups in the urban society?

* Using the global crisis as a diagnostic event to re-visit multi-scalar structural processes and policy challenges: European integration, the role of Europe in a polycentric global economy, the dismantling of the welfare state, and the rising role of cities and city regions in distributing resources, provision of services, and sustaining economic and occupational restructuring. 'Place' is not considered as a variable of an abstract socio-structural rationale, but as an arena where processes are played and, even more important, as an actor determining social and economic futures. Global-local relationships, inter-urban networks, European, national and city-region dynamics should be examined here together with institutions and agency involved in producing urban social realities and fostering social cohesion at various scales.

* Forms of participation, democratisation, socially creative strategies, and community initiatives that are emerging in attempts to overcome urban fragmentation: how do processes of collective action and modes of governance and association respond to the global crisis?

* The changing condition of social reproduction, social and spatial mobility and disrupted social relations in a global perspective: the disempowerment of male income earners, impact upon women's work, participation of minorities in the labour market, gender equality and family relations.

* Broader and spatially-sensitive understandings of diversity - including not only questions of ethnicity, gender and citizenship, but also inequalities, class and segregation of every kind - exploring the effects of the concentration of diversity in individual residential, employment and leisure environments on social inclusion or exclusion, especially in terms of participation in the labour market

1.5. Methodology

The current processes of global change, such as migration flows, polarisation and segregation in European cities should be analysed on the basis of theoretically founded comparative research addressing wage inequality, occupational and sectoral changes, social class composition and employment structures, formal and informal social networks. There is considerable scope within this research for combining qualitative and quantitative analyses and developing comparable data to bring a better understanding of how urban realities are structured in the interplay between physical, economic, political and cultural processes in different regions and cities in Europe, with particular attention to the Eastern and Southern "peripheries".

The research should follow three main methodological principles: transdisciplinarity, holistic approach and scale-sensitive research endeavour:

1) Transdisciplinary approach - is based on the methodological assumption that, in researching urban social cohesion, knowledge is enriched by research techniques which mobilize the tacit, experience-based knowledge of urban actors. Research must therefore employ methods such as action research and forms of Theory-Practice-Dialogue that integrate the voices of experience with systematic and evidence-based research.

2) Holistic approach - The complexity and multidimensionality of social cohesion must be taken into account by envisaging the city as a whole. This requires a systemic and relational approach, which is structural as well as path-sensitive and context-specific, and includes acknowledging a diverse range of research epistemologies and perspectives to study interplays between physical, economic, political and cultural transformations in cities.

3) Scale-sensitive research should link urban issues and practices with structural dynamics, and re-uniting micro - and macro - studies and analyses from different levels of complexity. Multilevel governance is central to policy debates as the processes for policy development are not uniform across country or sector. Thus all levels of policy intervention deserve thorough attention. This involves researching multilevel-governance arrangements and the relations and role of institutions (at different levels and scales) in promoting horizontal communication networks between territorial actors.

CHALLENGE 2: Governing cohesion and diversity in urban contexts

Sako Musterd, Thea Dukes, Marisol García, Santiago Eizaguirre, Marc Pradel

1.1. The challenge

Understanding and governing diversity in urban areas is a key issue for analyzing, within various research themes, the institutional arrangements and mechanisms facing social cohesion challenges in the city. Diversity is regarded as a problem by some but it is seen as an essential condition for urban development by others. However, tensions between diversity development and social cohesion in the city as a whole are not systematically researched. There is a need for comparative research on the character, scale and spatial expressions of diversity and on the ways in which it connects to inequality and social cohesion; on the political and social impacts of the distinctive modes of urban multi-scalar governance, the inter-actions between central and local governments, on the restructuring and transformation of inequalities and segregations between ethnic, gender and other inhabitants' social categories. The introduction of new tools of urban governance such as participatory ways of planning, a stronger focus on local development and the inclusion of "strategies from below" into urban policies provoked a shift in responsibilities and engagement. Formal and informal citizenship practices help to reinforce the social fabric as well as to incorporate alternative views of societies' well being.

1.2. Why it matters for Europe: Cities in Member States are widely confronted with the important issue of how to govern (in) diversity. In fragmented urban societies diversity is a complex question. Cities in Member States have evolved historically with parallel trajectories in population growth, which renders some cities more culturally and socially heterogeneous than others. Moreover, there are important differences between cities in the north and south of Europe and between east and west. It is important at this point in history to collect and compare the different trajectories and challenges experienced by cities, as well as the different strategies adopted.

The European Union favours the competitiveness of European cities in the world and at the same time is aware of the importance to promote social and territorial cohesion. European institutions need to be informed of the character, scale and spatial expressions of diversity and the ways in which it connects to inequality and social cohesion. Research outcomes should inform the analysis of how some policy choices are more capable than others in producing social cohesion.

1.3. Addressing the challenge: This challenge should be addressed through a balanced combination of research work and complementary activities. The research should allow different views or disciplines to address the challenge from different perspectives. Scientific steering should enhance interdisciplinarity as much as possible and allow cross-fertilization and innovative research. Interaction between researchers, policy makers, planners and social actors should complement scientific research with a view to enhancing an effective dissemination and application of research outcomes and their relevance for research per se and for current as well as future social cohesion public policies.

1.4. Research dimensions to be taken into consideration

* Understanding the gap between policy intentions dealing with social cohesion and diversity and the actual implementation and outcomes of those policies. The gap between discourses and policies of "social and culture mixing" and "multidimensional diversity" (including social inequalities and differences in terms of age, gender, ethnic origin, religion, lifestyles, etc.) and the critical assessments of the rationales behind them as well as their assumed impacts.

* Understanding and governing the new relationships (due to diversity) between the private and public domains and their impacts on social cohesion. New approaches to the meaning of public urban space, its governance and management, leading often to real (or symbolic) privatization. Has this affected the accountability and the 'spaces of democracy', the decision-making spaces needed for the proper working of democracy? Has it had an impact on social, cultural and political rights in the local arenas and should these rights be redefined and re-institutionalized? One particular focus is how multilevel governance affects local practices?

* Understanding and governing conflicting interests in cities of diversity and in fragmented cities. Is there a need for new modes of communication between urban groups and communities, political decision-makers etc.? Research focusing on variations of civic and political organisation, and their role in solving social conflicts and facilitating community development. This topic signals the importance of governance dynamics in empowering disadvantaged groups as well creating democratic mechanisms for conflict resolution, with a special focus on intercultural competences and learning processes.

* Understanding and managing interculturality and ways of learning to live together with differences and identities (assessing also the role of urbanism, collective services and welfare in creating collective identities). Taking account of accumulated knowledge from daily practices in society at large (schools, public administrations, neighbourhood communities, etc.).

* The relationship between governing diversity and the management of security in public spaces and the risk of erosion of civic rights.

1.5. Methodology

The multidimensionality of diversity and the complexity of its governance in cities require a combination of historical and comparative perspectives. Historical knowledge of national and local definitions of ethnicity and citizenship needs to be complemented with systematic international comparative research with a time and scale differentiation component. Moreover, critical comparative research requires sound knowledge on socio-economic inequalities and other more diffuse aspects concerning diversity, such as identity and lifestyles, which needs quantitative approaches as well as longitudinal studies. Individual characteristics and 'diversity environments' can be dealt with simultaneously and can be related to social exclusion or inclusion processes: both quantitatively (in order to generalize) and qualitatively (in order to reveal underlying processes and mechanisms). For example in terms of investigating the residential, educational and employment careers and pathways of specific groups and inhabitants, could shed light on structural urban inequalities. Finally, in order to grasp the complexities of multi-level governance and multi-actors involvement in dealing with diversity in cities researchers need to interact with policy-makers, planners and social actors in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research in which the complexity is covered through a holistic approach.

TOPIC 1: Urban social cohesion and the environmental challenge

Erik Swyngedouw, Ian Cook, Giorgos Kallis, Anne Querrien, Korinna Thielen, and Jim Segers

The global environmental challenge is arguably the most important single issue that will confront European urbanization in the foreseeable future. In a region where 70% of the population lives in cities, many of which are already characterized by severely problematic environmental conditions and confronted with accentuating conditions of social polarization and exclusion, the socio-ecological management of the city in socially cohesive ways constitutes a formidable challenge. A series of empirical and theoretical issues remain unexplored or underdeveloped and require urgent attention. In particular, there are major gaps with respect to documenting and analyzing (1) the environmental implications of processes of urban change and their uneven consequences for different social groups; (2) the existence of profound socio-ecological injustices as a result of uneven access to ecological amenities within the city or uneven protection from negative urban environmental externalities; (3) the uneven ways through which nature becomes urbanized to produce particular urban milieus; (4) the politics and policies associated with maintaining the socio-ecological functioning of the city; (5) the uneven urban socio-ecological consequences of processes of global environmental change, in particular climate change; (6) technological, institutional and political processes related to understanding the making of socio-ecologically cohesive and sustainable urban communities.

Building and regenerating sustainable infrastructures (housing, real estate, urban redevelopment, ICT, transport) and socio-ecological flows (energy, food, CO2, resources, waste , water, fire, sewage, atmospheric gases, etc...) require comparative research and future-looking investigations into creative city models able to transform socio-ecological relations in a more equitable and cohesive manner. Beyond the general consensus on sustainable development, dissecting urban environmental discourses and practices in terms of networks, coalitions of actors and institutional arrangements is key to understanding how urban socio-ecological issues are socially and culturally constructed, and in which manner the representation of future generations and non-human interests will be included within the urban public arena. Furthermore, the emerging tensions and conflicts arising over different pathways for achieving socially balanced and environmentally sustainable cities require attention to new forms of governing and to considering new ways of making nature and society enter the domain of political engagement.

The elaboration of theoretical and methodological perspectives adequate to meet this research challenge requires a trans-disciplinary approach that focuses on the relational interplay between human and non-human conditions and processes, and how they fuse together in the making of the material city. Furthermore, the global character of socio-ecological processes requires a scale-sensitive analysis that relates local, urban, regional, national and transnational scales.

Particular topics to be considered here are:

* Analysis of the socio-ecological metabolism of cities, perceived as the production, reproduction and governance of natural, material and information flows and their socio-technical support structures.

* Comparative analysis of the social and economic dimensions of the design of sustainable infrastructures.

* Sustainability agendas of cities: how are they negotiated, designed, translated into collective action and governed?

* Development of theoretical concepts and methodological tools for the analysis of urban socio-ecological systems.

* Building scenarios on possible socio-ecological futures of cities, including the evaluation of different possible political choices.

* Rethinking fiscal arrangements in an ecological way.

* Socio-environmental cost analysis of the transport, communications and other flow-based systems and qualitative socio-environmental analysis of long-term social and environmental costs and benefits.

* The principles and mechanisms of urban re-development/re-generation as socio-ecological projects.

TOPIC 2: Developing a Plural Economic Approach to Foster Urban Social Cohesion

Laurent Fraisse, Frank Moulaert, Enzo Mingione, Philip O'Connor, Jean Hillier, Pierre Morrisette, Nuria Francoli, Diane Remy, Gerald Faschingeder, Eric Lavilunière, Juan Luis Klein, Isabel André

Understanding social cohesion in cities cannot be separated from an analysis of the current urban economic transformations. A plural evaluation is necessary of the interactions with and the impact of cities' competitive aspirations and growth strategies on the urban economic divide. A socio-economic approach is needed which goes beyond a dualistic view of the urban economy. This dualism is often expressed as: market versus public sector, formal versus informal economy, advanced versus traditional activities, contrasts between urban geographic zones, etc. Analysing the inclusion and exclusion processes and agencies that affect, in varying degrees, the different socio-professional, ethnic and gender groups in the cities implies to consider the urban economy as a hybrid system of modes of production and distribution, types of entrepreneurship, service delivery institutions and labour/capital relations situated within the 'wider' social relations that form the city.

This topic will examine the nature of existing urban economies, by studying the combinations between different kinds of markets, welfare and redistribution agencies; for profit, public and non for profit enterprises, grassroots initiatives and mutual aid networks, etc.; as well as modes of socio-economic organisation and how they are connected to each other. It will focus in particular on those factors and dynamics that have produced greater integrated development and social cohesion in existing urban economies.

There are two main foci under this topic:

1. Understanding the urban plural economy as a concept;

2. Identifying potential ways of steering plural economies to foster urban social cohesion.

Special issues to be considered include:

* The multi-scalar entanglements of processes, institutions and agencies (including individuals as agents) in plural economies and how they foster social cohesion.

* Developing new theoretical concepts and methodological tools for the analysis of the different aspects and configurations of urban plural economies.

* Potentials and limits of grassroots creative initiatives and social innovation for fostering cohesive plural urban economies.

* Integrative and polarized effects of diverse forms of entrepreneurship (individual, community, social entrepreneurship), especially with regard to youth, gender and ethnicity.

* The role of different forms of financial credit in fostering plural economies and as a possible means of local resilience in the face of the global financial crisis and its urban consequences.

* Impacts of the urban allocation of resources by a mixed economic governance system which is competitive to a greater or lesser extent, both cooperative and redistributive, and which aims to meet the diverse needs of an urban population as well as guarantee equal access to and quality of urban services of general interest.

* Social and institutional initiatives and processes (community economic development, integrated urban development) as a way of integrating diverse forms of economic stakeholders and commitment of inhabitants for a cohesive urban economy.

The research should aim to break the dichotomy of traditional dualistic analytical frameworks and to regard the plural economy as an opportunity. It should be inter- and trans-disciplinary. In addition, research must develop and adopt a working definition of 'plural urban economy'. A socio-economic approach is recommended to analyze strategic sectors. The role of institutional processes should be at the heart of the analysis. Through case studies, research should analyze the institutions, agencies and conditions of possibility involved, which have had (an historical perspective) and may have (foresighting methods) significant impacts on a plural urban economy. The role of multiscalar institutional processes and conditions of multi-level governance of the plural economy should be studied. Analysis of different scales of incomes should identify the plurality of an urban economic system. Research should also develop possible criteria and indicators for assessing the effectiveness and performance of the plural economy. We do not wish to preclude successful tenderers developing appropriate research methodologies, though we particularly welcome hands-on active learning/ABCD-based approaches and partnership based research which mobilize the experiences of policy makers, citizens and stakeholders as participants of the research process.

TOPIC 3: Social exclusion dynamics as a challenge to social cohesion in cities

Serena Vicari Haddock, Enzo Mingione, Chris Kesteloot, Mar Camarasa, Núria Francolí

Despite European, national and regional policies intended to promote social cohesion, old forms of social exclusion dynamics in various areas of societal life still persist and new forms are at work. The objective of the research activity is to understand the new challenges that old and new forms of the social exclusion pose to societal cohesion in urban areas, in the present situation of economic and financial crisis and in its potential evolution. Research activity should address the new multidimensional nature of inequalities (how class, gender, ethnicity, civil rights entitlement, age and disability interplay in the production of exclusion), their social and spatial determinants and how they shape paths and dynamics of exclusion and inclusion. A second axis of research should provide a better understanding of urban social cohesion, the production and reproduction processes which are said to produce it, and the relationship between urban social cohesion and inequalities.

The following research topics and questions should be taken into consideration:

* The new social and spatial construction of inequality in the current crisis. Which social groups are particularly penalised? How do different processes of discrimination and exclusion shape individual life trajectories into marginalisation and deprivation? Spatially, as new urban forms emerge, novel mechanisms of exclusion operate and some are expected to become more severe as a result of the current crisis. How do these social and spatial inequalities translate into threats to social cohesion?

* Public policy and exclusionary dynamics in cities. How does public policy at different institutional levels and in different domains contribute to the creation of new social exclusion dynamics? In the culture domain, for example, how are cultural policies influenced by and how do they contribute to producing hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses? How do they allow the recognition of cultural diversity and pursue the mediation among different cultural groups?

* The city as the site of privileged social groups, both old and new. So far the problems related to social and spatial polarization have been studied with a focus on the poor. New attention should be given to the presence of economically privileged social groups and how such a presence and the demands it generates, contribute to the fragmentation of urban space and to social exclusion. Upper classes should be investigated as agents of processes of de-territorialisation and re-territorialisation by which they are able to enjoy high quality privatized spaces while avoiding the costs. As they no longer have their economic interests firmly located in one city, they no longer contribute to its civic texture through actual residence within that city. How are they to be held accountable for social cohesion? Efforts of the affluent middle classes to segregate themselves from the urban fabric, and the far reaching consequences of this behaviour, should be studied. How do gated communities, as well as more hybrid urban forms, contribute to exclusion and segregation processes? The residential, educational and employment careers and pathways of inhabitants and specific groups should be investigated in order to shed light on the actual working and unfolding of these processes.

As far as methodology is concerned, the research should allow different disciplines and perspectives to address the theme of social exclusion and urban social cohesion and their interplay. Among these perspectives of particular importance is that of policy makers, activists and concerned groups in the city, as they make sense of the local constraints and resources to be mobilized in opposition to social exclusion and the pursuit of social cohesion. Specific methodologies for knowledge transfer and exchange among researchers and different concerned actors should be provided. Secondly, a multidisciplinary gender perspective should be applied when doing research on social exclusion, and gendered experience of exclusion should be collected and analyzed so that new variables, new themes and new dimensions emerge as a result of this effort. Thirdly, in order to provide a better understanding of the multilevel processes involved in the production of social exclusion and social cohesion, research concepts and tools should prove adequate and sensitive to different scales of analysis.

TOPIC 4: Drivers and social outcomes of urban regeneration in European cities

Jorge Malheiros, Chris Kesteloot, Tim Cassiers, Vasco Lub, Stuart Cameron

This call aims to look at the diversity of drivers and outcomes of urban regeneration programs in European cities. In the past 20 years, large or small-scale regeneration operations have been implemented in many European cities. These operations targeted obsolete harbour and industrial areas as well as deprived neighbourhoods located in both the historical centres and the peripheries of metropolises. Framed within the European urban sustainability policy, these initiatives aimed to increase the urban competitiveness of the neighbourhoods and cities and simultaneously to contribute to improvement of the citizens living conditions and to promote social inclusion. The general research question is how urban regeneration processes impact on social cohesion. Social cohesion is seen as a two layer situation: securing livelihood (which entails integration in markets, state redistribution systems and social networks) and participation to the discussion about the future of the city (political participation in the urban community). Therefore the research project should not look at individual projects of regeneration, be they large scale or very local projects and processes, but has to take the whole city as a unit of analysis and comparison. Given the large diversity of European cities in terms of size, spatial configurations, demographic dynamics and welfare state regimes (including the cities from new member states), proposing typologies of these cities and related regeneration processes is necessary. Even more, the diversity of the cities is the source for understanding the conditions under which urban regeneration is fostering social cohesion. This yields the following issues to be examined:

Regeneration drivers: On the one hand the research project should analyse the drivers of regeneration programs, their agendas and interests. What are these drivers of market-led, policy-led and/or household-led regeneration processes in European cities? How do these drivers interrelate and how do these processes fit in the urban fabric? Which discourses/dispositifs on the city and its future underpin attitudes and actions of the involved institutions and/or individuals? In what way do these actors negotiate the processes with (other) actors in the area? Under which form and conditions can these negotiations foster social cohesion in the sense of political participation in the urban community? What is the temporality of these drivers and their geography, including spatial dynamics and interscalar processes (cycles and spatial shifts in investments, architecture, construction industry, European urban policy, diffusion of policies and "best practices", cultural attitudes towards cities...)? Finally, one cannot automatically assume that these processes take place in every city everywhere in Europe. Therefore, research on cities in which these drivers and/or processes are absent and on the reasons why they are absent, is an absolute necessity in order to broaden our knowledge of urban regeneration.

Regeneration impacts: On the other hand the research project should look at the effects of regeneration processes in the neighbourhoods in which they appear, both on existing and new inhabitants, on social networks and urban infrastructure. Do urban regeneration processes achieve the goal of social cohesion in a sense of securing the livelihood of old and new inhabitants? What are the effects of regeneration processes on the housing market and real estate industry, on local government and its fiscal basis, thus reshaping opportunities and constraints for social cohesion? What are the spatial effects of urban regeneration on the socio-spatial structures of the urban metropolitan area and on other cities through their impact on residential pathways and housing market constraints? What are the effects of urban regeneration on urban politics and culture and modes of governance, including changes in the electoral structure and the political participation of the urban population? How do urban regeneration strategies affect the social mix in the cities and/or desegregation? Are there differences and patterns according to the drivers and main agents of regeneration involved?

Through comparative case-studies, a synthesis should be produced on the conditions under which urban regeneration means social cohesion. These cases have to include cities of different sizes, capital and non-capital cities, cities in old as well as new member states,... in order to cover for the diversity of European cities. Furthermore, cities in which these processes and drivers are absent should also be incorporated in the project. Every case has to be researched in a transdisciplinary, holistic and scale-sensitive way in order to put it in its specific context and to grasp its complexity and multidimensionality.

TOPIC 5: Challenges to Social Cohesion in Cities of South: Latin-America and Africa

Juan-Luis Klein, Andreas Novy, Hudita Mustafa, Kazuo Nakano, Alfredo Rodríguez, and Carlos La Serna

The South is not only interesting as a place of deprivation and lack of social cohesion, but also as a source of inspiration. 1) On the one hand, the exceedingly complex cities of the south present intellectual and policy challenges that require much more in-depth research and analysis about the institutional structural, and socioeconomic contexts of urban environments. There is especially a need to identify factors that inhibit social cohesion, promote exclusion and provoke strong fractures and divides. These problems have important repercussions for both Southern and Northern countries, given that they generate migration and insecurity at the local and global scale. 2) On the other hand, it is important to know more about urban social experiments that respond to persisting and new problems and could contribute to social integration (at the neighbourhood, city and city-region level). The analysis of these experiments could generate important findings for mutual learning and dissemination throughout different regions of the global south and to developed countries. In this way they could inspire new solutions for fostering social cohesion and participatory territorial planning, as microcredit and the participative budget already have done. Therefore, comparative research and analysis, between countries in the South, and between South and North, is important to developing the pathways and information base for mutual learning about urbanization processes, social experiments, and creating new coordinated solutions to urbanization challenges.

* The transformations of the labour market and social inequality provoked by the so called "New Economy" or by public and private investments having effects above all upon vulnerable groups, such as young people, women, ethnic and religious minorities, indigenous peoples, elderly and migrants. Such people, most severely and immediately experience the dramatic impact of economic divides. Their experience provides important windows onto the contradictory effects of, informal economy, which provides opportunity but also reinforces traditional norms and furthers vulnerability. It is important also to have research on the reconfiguration of Southern economies, especially the impact of emerging economies like China, Brazil and India, on the productive structure and the labour market of cities of Southern Countries.

* Languages, institutions and lived experience of Rights as the new vehicles for urban movements, and the local emergence of new forms of organization, solidarities and urban movements. The focus should be on struggles around housing tenure, including the right to continue living in gentrifying neighbourhoods, the provision of social services, the protection of jobs, and rights to safe and fair policing. Research should highlight the potential of these experiments to respond to social requirements and to inspire more global strategies and public policies oriented to rebuild social cohesion especially in vulnerable contexts. It is also critical to study failed rights based projects, or why some strategies and experiments which seek access to social justice produce results opposite to the pursued goals.

* The problem of security, one of the most important problems in many cities on the South, namely in Latin-America and Africa, as far as social cohesion is concerned. Poverty and inequalities and the lack of trust in political and social institutions have provoked a climate of increasing violence. This climate has major effects on social and physical segregation at the city level. Public spaces are no longer public and the right to the city is increasingly limited by, symbolic, social and physical barriers (gated communities, suburbanization process, ethnic division, cultural stigmatizations), especially for migrants, young people, women, and the elderly.

* The increasing social and ethnic diversity provoked by international migrations between countries of the South or by interregional migrations. This is a cause for new forms of segregation and social divides from which emerge new forms of integration and networking at a transnational scale.

This challenge should be addressed through a combination of fundamental, partnership-based and context- and scale-sensitive comparative research carried out by transdisciplinary teams composed of researchers and social and public actors from Europe and from southern cities.

Part III: SOCIAL POLIS Survey Papers and Educational Resources

1. Survey papers

1.1. Literature surveying endeavour

Working towards defining research priorities for the Focused Research Agenda, the SOCIAL POLIS consortium produced 13 well-structured and detailed survey papers. The collection of these papers of theoretical, empirical and - depending on the thematic focus - policy-oriented scientific contributions will be published as a Special Issue of Urban Studies on 'Cities and Social Cohesion in Spring 2012. In order to address social cohesion, exclusion and inclusion processes and agencies (collective strategies, public policies) within the spatially embedded city, literature surveys have been organised according to eleven existential fields of urban reality plus a conceptual paper clarifying the concept of social cohesion and a twelfth 'field' on 'Cities and Social Cohesion as a whole'. The first step in the literature survey was to provide a State-of-the-Art of European research on particular themes and dynamics - brought together in different 'existential fields' - that are considered to belong to the core of the social cohesion problematic. This step also included reporting on how the literature on each of these fields conceptualises and theorises social cohesion. The second step broadened the field of the literature, moving on from European to extra-European research, but at the same time narrowed the approach, by organising the state-of-the-art around one or a few thematic foci, that are of particular relevance to the existential field. The final step then was the transversal reading of the different field-bound surveys against the background of the more generic, pre or post-disciplinary literature on social cohesion, thus laying the basis for the methodological recommendations in the final article of this special issue.

The SOCIAL POLIS survey papers are organised around one or a few leading questions that are relevant to the particular existential field that is covered in each paper. These questions concern perspectives to changing dynamics of social cohesion in economic, political, and socio-cultural spheres of urban life in Europe and other geo-regions. The surveying work covers comparative research mainly at the European level - often funded by the EU - as well as local and national studies on urban inequality and cohesion in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas in both academic and policy-oriented literature. The papers are not mere reviews of past and present research but also look towards the future. In their search for features of more cohesive urban environments the authors address current research challenges, set possible directions of future research and policy that could empower different actors at various spatial scales and within diverse institutional frameworks, and involve them in cross-sectoral debates and practices which could foster urban social cohesion, as the collective experience within the Social Polis social platform has shown. Several of the papers address methodological questions on social cohesion research within cities and their wider spatial relations. In particular the Introduction on social cohesion as a research agenda and the final paper on the integration of priorities in urban research methodology from both an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspective, are of significant value.

1.2. Prelude to the State-of-the-Art: an analytical perspective

In mainstream economic and policy approaches, social cohesion is considered as resulting from economic growth and innovation, which will create more jobs for more people. This is also the core message of the European Commission Staff Working Paper Cohesion Policy and Cities: the urban contribution to growth and jobs in the regions (CEC, 2005): bring cohesion to cities by creating more and better jobs, and improving the employability of people in want of work. This overly simple view of the relationship between urban economy and social cohesion is also partly the consequence of its relatively young history as a category of urban analysis: the social cohesion concept has only recently been connected to cities. It is traditionally associated with the analysis of society as a whole (following Durkheim and Weber), looking at the socially cohesive or disruptive impacts of religion, political system, law, economy, work, etc. Observe that this traditional sociological approach also involves the 'coercive' dimensions of society and social cohesion. What we retain from the Godfathers of social relations analysis is that social cohesion involves not just the place of the poor, the lawless, the marginal citizens but, above all, the people acting in society as a worker, a citizen, a believer, etc. and how these different entries to socialisation feed the dialectics of coherence and fragmentation. Today social cohesion debates, in general, focus strongly on social inclusion as a multi-dimensional process with multiple agencies seeking to include effectively or potentially excluded workers, citizens, consumers, students, ethnicities into society. This has recently led to an understanding of social cohesion as cutting across different types of citizenships, group identities and inter-group dialogue, resulting in pleas for enlarged notions of citizenship (Garcia, 2006; others) and treatments of social inclusion as a process of making democracy more democratic, by applying it in a diversity of life spheres and social communities (Novy and Leubolt, 2005; Swyngedouw, 2005; Saloojee, 2003).

In social sciences and humanities, analysis of the relation between social cohesion and space has been introduced in a philoprogenetive way through developments in social, cultural and economic geography, urban sociology, planning, etc. Over the past twenty years or so, urban theory has undergone dramatic changes parallel to the profound political, economic and cultural changes that have transformed the urban social fabric itself. While early critical urban work concentrated on urban social conflict, urban social struggles and social movements in the context of the managed capitalism of the post-war area (Harvey, 1973, Castells, 1976), later urban work began to fragment into a kaleidoscopic array of critical urban studies, focusing on domains as diverse as gender, ethnicity, governance, and urban socio-economic restructuring (Tivers, 1985; West, 1990; Wilson, 1991; Yiftachel, 1994; Sandercock, 1998; Moulaert and Scott, 1997). From the early nineties onwards, the focus was more centrally on cities as major nodes in the globalisation process and the negative or positive dynamics associated with a globalized urbanity (Sassen, 1992; Moulaert, et al., 2003). Urban social research became more squarely focused on the creative possibilities and challenges faced by urbanization (Florida, 2003) on the one hand, and on the socially disruptive and plainly polarising and fragmenting consequences of rapid urban restructuring (Fainstein, et al, 1992) on the other hand. As a corollary to this process, attention was paid to the new forms of civic and social mobilisation and local social capital formation as strategies of coping with the negative consequences of urban restructuring and changes in role, positions, and scales of urban 'governance'. A critically important new space of enquiry opened up with this; one that focuses on the city as a space for civic actions, social integration and, with it, the possibilities of thinking through new configurations for citizenship formation and political participation from a decidedly cosmopolitan perspective (Sandercock, 2003). There is an advancing line of research which claims that cities constitute democratic spaces where "acts of citizenship" unfold and where social relations create spaces of becoming citizens (Isin and Turner, 2007). This line of research has considerable potential because it focuses on how collective actors (citizens and will be citizens) are capable of creating new spaces for public debate and for claiming new rights. By doing so, that is through "acts of citizenship", the body of rights not only is extended but can also integrate diverse views and ways to understand the public sphere (Garcia, 2006).

Despite this wide interest in social cohesion issues within spatial analysis, today we are far from a full understanding of social cohesion issues in cities. The interconnected dimensions of urban cohesion, or lack thereof, refer to a myriad of intuitions, precepts, notions, concepts, theories, and so on. Policy debates have not played a very constructive role in this matter. Since the EC DG Employment and Social Policy's analysis of 'Urban Social Development' (CEC 1992), where a proxy definition of social cohesion was provided (starting from the concept of 'Urban social development'), no clear progress in understanding 'Urban Social Cohesion' has been made. This may be due to the successive refocusing of the Lisbon Agenda with more stress on the Knowledge-Based Economy, and less on Social Europe and Social Cohesion. This refocusing is reflected in the evolution of the EU's view of Territorial Cohesion which is increasingly connected to the Lisbon Agenda (see for example the Conclusions of the Third Cohesion Report; CEC, 2004), the already-signalled economist interpretation of 'Cohesion Policy and Cities', as well as the reorientation of the URBAN programme towards urban/neighbourhood redevelopment approaches based more on physical renewal than socio-economic revitalization (CEC, 2003). The Policy Position of the European Anti-Poverty Network towards the 'Third report on economic and social cohesion' is instructive in this respect. It warns against a too mainstream interpretation of Social Cohesion in the 2007-13 round of Structural Funds, referring to a lack of focus on the most marginalized groups, and the abandonment of Community Initiatives Programmes which, until now, have proved most effective in dealing with social exclusion problems for particular groups and areas.

To keep this literature-surveying endeavour within boundaries we will take with us throughout our reading the two following 'anchors' reflected in 'Cities and Social Cohesion':

* what is urban? Following the lead of established social science literature on urban issues, we make suggestions towards a consistent, description of "the urban" (the polis) that would take into account the dynamic and heterogeneous physical and social characteristics of urban systems.

* what do we mean by 'social cohesion'? How do we understand the dynamics fostering social inclusion and exclusion in urban areas? Here some (limited) backward linkages to work on the relevance of the social cohesion debate for society and its groups is necessary (see references cited before, but Giddens [1984], Bourdieu [1979] on social structures, social capital, ruptures, distinction and inclusion are also relevant here).

Furthermore, we need to address the spatial with the social dimensions of cohesion and cities, some of which are integrated into policy definitions (territorial cohesion, spatial cohesion, urban cohesion), others in more complex geographical perspectives such as a relational approach to spatial networks, a social capital approach to the reproduction of neighbourhoods and social communities or a scalar articulation approach to spatial fragmentation and integration. The concepts of social exclusion and integration can then be addressed according to one or several of these perspectives.

To simplify the organization of the surveying and synthesising tasks, we worked with a number of concepts for which we accept a plurality of mostly complementary definitions:

* Cohesion: spatial, territorial, regional, urban, from an analytical and a policy perspective. A process perspective, privileging integration and exclusion factors and mechanisms will be favoured (Moulaert, 1996). However these mechanisms and factors are connected through a diversity of 'existential fields' (see Table 2 below), while at the same time referring to diverse types of collective agencies (public policy, civil society mobilising, enterprise networking);

* Social exclusion: as a state, a process (multi-dimensional), a collective agency (including public policy), using work by Paugam (1996), Vranken (2001), Morlicchio (2004), Moulaert, Morlicchio and Cavola (2007), based on a multi-dimensional understanding of exclusion processes, capable of grasping the various sectors in urban society ...

* .... addressed in an urban context, but from a multi-scalar perspective (neighbourhoods, urban villages, cities, metropolitan areas, urban regions) following work by Kearns and Forrest (2000), Mingione (1996), Moulaert et al. (2000, 2002), Murie and Musterd (2004), Musterd, Murie and Kesteloot (2006). An important qualifier here is that different exclusion/inclusion dynamics privilege particular spatial scales. For example, inclusion and exclusion in the labour market should primarily be addressed at an (urban) regional scale, access to social services is mainly a proximity issue (at the neighbourhood level) while integration of a city in wider trade networks concerns the connection to Trans European Transport Networks (CEC, 1999), among others;

* Social inclusion: as a process (multi-dimensional), a collective agency, a policy perspective and strategy, an institutionalization process. Here extensive use can be made by results from SINGOCOM (Urban Studies special issue, 2005, 42(11); European Urban and Regional Studies 2007, 14(3) covering virtually all aspects of social inclusion at the urban level (Vicari-Haddock 2004);

* In sum: the multi-scalarity of 'cohesion' dynamics active in a variety of spheres of society, economy and polity, reproducing diversity within and across cities, fed by socio-cultural movements and reflected in ethical debates (see Table 1).

1.3. The content of the survey papers: summaries

Social cohesion - conceptual and political clarifications - Andreas Novy, Frank Moulaert, Daniela Coimbra de Souza and Barbara Beinstein

Social cohesion is a catchword with multiple meanings. There is, however, broad agreement that social cohesion is multidimensional and certain features - as identity, socio-economic inclusion, belonging and values - are recurrent in the literature but inspiring diverse conceptualisations. Nevertheless, the chosen approach decisively impacts on collective action, policymaking and actors expected to "tackle the problem" or to "foster the solution" of urban social cohesion. This paper aims at clarifying conceptual and sociopolitical issues by embedding the discussion on social cohesion within a dynamic and complex understanding of socioeconomic development within cities and their wider spatial systems. To this purpose, the first section systematises a variety of ways to approach and apply the concept of social cohesion. In section two, social cohesion is addressed as a problématique, i.e. an ensemble of questions and challenges raised by the political and methodological use of the concept. Grasping social cohesion as a problématique means to accept the contradictory dynamics inherent in capitalism as a socioeconomic system based on "creative destruction". Therefore, development is Janus-faced, based on competition as well as cooperation. Drawing upon two classics - Emile Durkheim and Max Weber - two main approaches to social cohesion concerning policy making and its political implications can be distinguished: the first focuses on integrating excluded people into the existing order, while the second aims at changing the structure of society to allow all to become part of it without abdicating their uniqueness and diversity. Thus, the second approach politicises the problem of constructing a cohesive order.

Local welfare systems: a challenge for social cohesion - Alberta Andreotti, Enzo Mingione, Emanuele Polizzi

New forms of welfare systems are emerging in European cities as a consequence of bottom-up and top-down pressures (e.g. increasing heterogeneity of needs and demands for welfare services, fiscal crisis of national welfare states, institutional pressure of the European Union etc.). We can refer to them as Local Welfare Systems (LWS): a mix of formal and informal services provided by both public and private actors at the local level to respond to the specific local needs of urban populations. These systems are not stable structures, but dynamic processes. The main challenge for LWS is to promote social cohesion in local, especially urban contexts, which means fostering networks of social relations connecting both individuals and organizations, and supporting them through the development of a wide range of urban services. Such a complex system of services is the result of local resources: public welfare services, local development agencies, for-profit and non-profit enterprises, and mutual aid networks. In order to integrate these different and fragmented resources, local authorities are required to develop and implement governance arenas and participatory instruments. In this paper we present some of the most important implications related to LWS and the challenges they have to face in seeking to build urban social cohesion. The paper is divided into three parts. The first part briefly presents the reasons justifying a local approach to welfare and an overview of the different configurations of LWS. The second, making extensively use of the literature, gives an account of the scientific debate on LWS. The third part indicates how the scientific research can help to clarify the relation between LWS and the creation of social cohesion.

Social polarisation, the labour market and economic restructuring in Europe: an urban perspective - Jonathan Pratschke and Enrica Morlicchio

This paper assesses whether current trends in relation to the occupational structure and labour markets of European cities and their impact on urban social cohesion may be usefully explored using the concept of social polarisation. The paper is based on a systematic review of the social science literature on social polarisation in urban areas, focusing primarily on European cities. The aim of the discussion is to develop a set of theoretical ideas that can be used to guide empirical analysis and shed light on phenomena such as the expansion of low-skilled service jobs in urban areas, the existence of an affluent, transnational elite of higher-level professionals and managers and the role of immigrants and informal work in urban labour markets. The paper is articulated in five sections. The first three give an overview of the academic debate with a special focus on the EU research; the fourth section addresses the major problems of urban labour market and immigration research and policy; the last section develops proposals for research on the labour market and economic restructuring in Europe.

Housing and neighbourhood research: linking social cohesion and well-being - Stuart Cameron, Rose Gilroy and Konrad Miciukiewicz

Access to a decent quality, affordable home in a supportive neighbourhood is essential to an individual in maintaining well-being and to a society in achieving social cohesion. This paper takes as its starting point this inter-dependency and through this multi-scalar perspective explores the tension between fragmentation and coherence as played out in the arena of housing and neighbourhood understood as both physical and social urban space. It begins by drawing on international research which makes clear that housing systems in Europe are fragmenting and converging to a weak state /dominant market forces model. The spotlight here is on Eastern Europe where this has been felt most acutely. How are countries in this region responding to the resultant governance challenges and with what impact on accessibility and quality of housing? In section two the paper explores how global economic trends and migration flows are increasing ethnic, cultural and lifestyle diversity leading to fragmentation of bonds within and between urban neighbourhoods. Various programmes have seen social mixing as an instrument for social cohesion to both integrate diverse peoples and improve socio-economic conditions for the poorest places and people. To what extent are these creating the conditions for human flourishing at societal, neighbourhood and individual levels? It is to the individual housing trajectories that the third section of the paper turns to explore how changes in policy and trends may affect perceptions of well-being. The paper concludes by calling for new directions in research and particularly for new approaches that provide opportunities for those who experience change to inject their voices into the policy arena.

Transport research and social cohesion in the splintered city: towards a progressive urban mobility agenda - Konrad Miciukiewicz and Geoff Vigar

The ability for all to access everyday goods and services, and interact with other people is a fundamental building block of a cohesive urban environment. Urban mobility not only allows access to city resources but also shapes the everyday experience of the city and the urban society. These show an increasingly polarised city - a splintered city - wherein unequal opportunities for mobility are part of wider societal problems. In this paper we examine how urban transport systems are shaping cities, with a particular focus on the issues of social cohesion including questions of social inclusion, social connectedness, civic involvement, recognition, community life and social order. We aim to shed light on how social cohesion is addressed in research and produced in European cities in the interactions between public institutions, transport systems, travelling urban populations, and changing urban landscapes. This review paper contains five sections and seeks to answer the following questions: Does mobility research (in a diversity of disciplines) relate sufficiently to social cohesion issues? How far do debates on urban mobility challenges and transport policy embrace the issues of social cohesion in its various dimensions? How can social cohesion be fostered through innovative research and transport policy? The first two sections of the paper give an overview of the academic literature with a special focus on the EU research; the third section discusses the major problems and shortcomings of recent urban transport research and policy; the last two sections propose a new urban mobility research agenda, address current challenges and set possible directions for transport research and suggest several ways forward for a more cohesive urban transport policy.

Cities, social cohesion and the environment: towards a future research agenda - Erik Swyngedouw and Ian R. Cook

The distribution of environmental goods and bads is staggeringly uneven in the contemporary city. Concurrently, those suffering disproportionately from environmental bads often have little or no opportunities to alter urban environmental decision-making practices. It is in this context of socio-environmental injustice and a distinct lack of social cohesiveness in societal relations with nature that this paper will consider the complex nexus between cities, social cohesion and the environment. The first half of the paper will critically examine four key schools of thought on the subject: the 19th and early 20th century antecedents to the urban environmental question, urban sustainability, environmental justice, and urban political ecology. In so doing, it will argue that in order to understand the nexus, emphasis must be placed on exploitation, inequality and injustice in socio-environmental relations, as well as on the extra-local processes through which socio-environmental inequalities are (re)produced. A four-pronged future research agenda will then be outlined in which we argue that more research is needed on: urban metabolism; the geographies and contradictions of environmental justice movements; the implications of neoliberalisation and 'post-neoliberalisation' for environmental justice; and the discourses of Nature in environmental policymaking and environmental justice movements.

Governance, citizenship and social cohesion in cities - Marisol García, Santiago Eizaguirre, Marc Pradel, Xavier Martínez, Albert Terrones

This paper analyses the relationship between urban governance and social cohesion from a citizenship analysis perspective, stressing the relevance of public policies and citizenship practices. Thus, it seeks to provide a critical understanding of social cohesion as a policy aim for cities in Europe, seeing urban and multi-scale governance as crucial features. Urban governance is considered within the frame of the transformation of the state and the emergence of complex multi-scalar decision making processes. Particular attention is given to previous contributions on the increasing role of cities and regions operating as collective actors in an arena of economic competitiveness and supported by the emergence of new private and civic agencies collaborating with public administrations. This contribution is organized as follows. First, it gives a review of the literature on the transformation of the state as to the emergence of a governance-based approach in policy practices. Second, it investigates the relation between new modes of governance analyses in relation to the debate on social cohesion. Third, it addresses the relevance of governance dynamics in the debates on social citizenship. Finally, it offers a fresh look at participatory democracy, social innovation and new citizens' practices fostering democracy. The conclusion explores few ways forward for comparative research on governance which would take into consideration the dynamics of social exclusion, citizens' practices and urban governance in different institutional contexts.

Learning in, for and from the city: the role of education in social and spatial cohesion - Isabel André, André Carmo, Alexandre Abreu, Ana Estevens, Jorge Malheiros

Learning - as a result of education (and training) formal and informal processes - is a key factor of social and spatial cohesion/fragmentation dynamics in the city. It plays a key role in the production of knowledge and to the building of social and cultural capital. In this sense, education institutions are essential in the reproduction or transformation of social relations, by decisively conveying and reinforcing the values, representations and practices that sustain the dominant economic, social and cultural structures. However, learning is also a crucial means of transforming power relations in the city, insofar as it is associated, in a more or less explicit manner, with the promotion of critical thinking and of access to information. This paper is structured around three sections. It starts with an extensive analysis of EU supported research allowing the identification of the main topics and challenges related to the role of education in urban society. Next, it deals with the linkages between learning and socio-spatial cohesion in the city examined from four complementary perspectives: (i) spatial and social inequalities respecting the access to education; (ii) learning for innovation and creativity related to the broad adoption of ICT but also to the promotion of social innovation in the city, namely through artistic expressions; (iii) education for citizenship centred on the achievement of social competences; (iv) education, cultural diversity and immigrant inclusion. Finally, in the last section two new subjects for future research are proposed. The first has emerged from the debate on local learning communities (learning in and from the city) and the second is centred upon the argument that the role of education institutions in socially inclusive urban regeneration processes is very important and has gained some social recognition (learning for the cohesive city).

Contemporary social change and spatial inequalities in urban Europe - Tim Cassiers and Chris Kesteloot

Spatial inequalities put a constraint on the possibilities of fostering social cohesion in contemporary European cities. Many policy programmes aim at reducing this spatial unevenness, mainly at the neighbourhood level, in order to build more cohesive communities. Although these polices may have some impact, they have only limited effect on reducing inequalities at the level of the city as a whole. This paper explores the question how the overall spatial organisation of European cities, as a result of economic, political and cultural changes over the last 40 years, affects social cohesion and the capacity to form and strengthen an urban community capable of deciding on a common future. The first part surveys the literature on the overall changes in society under post-Fordism and the implications of such changes on social inequalities. The survey addresses two questions: What is the spatial structure of these inequalities? How does this spatial structure affect social processes? The final section of the first part focuses on policy strategies aiming at reducing social segregation in urban areas. The second part of the paper analyses the relations between the actual spatial lay-out of cities and social cohesion. It relates social cohesion at the urban community level to the Foucauldian approach of negotiating conflicting interests. It is asserted that the actual and place-specific spatial patterns of different European cities are important to social cohesion, since they may foster or, on the contrary, hamper negotiation processes between different social groups present.

Super-diversity, multiple identities and place - Thea Dukes and Sako Musterd

In the globalizing world with its increasing flows of people, information and goods, city life and civic culture are becoming more hybrid, diverse and multicultural; people have various points of reference for developing their multiple identities. Cities of diversity and difference, with all their benefits, are at the same time characterized by division and fragmentation. Fostering social cohesion among the urban population is crucial, but in an increasingly vicious political climate where host-stranger relations and debates on integration tend to focus on assimilation and are polarizing, this is a major challenge. Moreover, diversity is primarily constructed in terms of problems and narrowly defined as 'cultural diversity', whereas there is a growing awareness that a cultural focus is insufficient for understanding problems in marginalized urban areas. This paper therefore seeks to answer the following question: How can social cohesion in cities be fostered, allowing for and doing justice to increasing diversity and the development of multiple identities in multiple time-space frameworks? First, the multidimensionality of diversity and identity is laid out. Next, a brief discussion of multiple time-space contexts is provided (section 3), while public and academic debates on inclusion and integration, as well as their shortcomings, are addressed in section 4. Section 5 deals with the primary policy answers, challenges and obstacles related to integration and section 6 presents an overview of gaps in the research and gives orientation to future.

Cultural creation and social creativity as the basis for the building of a cohesive city - Juan-Luis Klein

This paper presents an overall and critical vision of the main theoretical elements, debates, and strategic perspectives on the link between creation and creativity on the one hand, and the building of social cohesion in the city on the other hand. Creation and creativity can take place in several domains and the subject is vast. This paper addresses the following question: How can creation and creativity be combined to make the city more cohesive and, at the same time, to contribute to its socio-economic development? The paper is divided into three sections. In the first section, the need is shown for action to foster social cohesion as well as for rethinking social cohesion to make it compatible with the society in which actors and citizens increasingly search for new identities and new solutions to social problems. Factors that deteriorate urban social cohesion and different points of view concerning the ways to rebuild social cohesion, taking into account the specific challenges stemming from the new social and economic context, are discussed. The second section provides a summary of the main debates on creation, creativity and the city, and offers some proposals for a creative approach to social cohesion in an urban setting. In this section, the "creative class" strategy is presented and criticised, followed by a presentation of some fields in which creative experiments take place in more cohesive ways. In the third section, it is shown that creation and creativity can serve as a basis of a cohesive urban development strategy, provided that such a strategy is a part of a larger strategic planning process designed to foster the creative capabilities of individuals in their diversity and to support local identities and cultures. Therefore, the challenge for decision-makers and planners is to ensure that creation in its diverse forms turns into collective action and a trigger of existential quality for all citizens, which calls for innovative forms of governance.

From grassroots initiatives to local initiatives: potential and ambivalent effects on neighbourhood development in the age of globalisation - Laurent Fraisse

This paper explains the shift from grassroots initiatives based on protest and activism to more constructive and entrepreneurial ones. From a historical perspective, a conceptualisation of grassroots initiatives in reference to new urban social movements has been progressively replaced by the analysis of a new generation of local initiatives, which are understood as more pragmatic socio-economic responses to crises in employment and social exclusion, urban regeneration, and access to services in deprived areas. The first section describes the hybrid logic of local initiatives and some common characteristics, such as the dual socio-economic and socio-political aspects of local initiatives, multi-objective and multi-functional activities, multi-stakeholder dynamics, the co-production of collective and public action, civic and social entrepreneurship, multi-level governance aspects, the mixed economy of resource allocation, and the need for a plural economic analysis. The second section provides an evaluative overview of local initiatives. It contests their ability to produce a virtuous urban circle that would meet unsatisfied needs and create local jobs, empowering the community through direct participation in local governance and strengthening urban social cohesion. Coming from different disciplines (urban sociology, urban and regional economic development, socio-economy or political sociology), the ambivalent impacts of local initiatives in the age of globalisation are presented in terms of quantity and quality of jobs created, civic commitments and citizen participation, a cohesive social dynamics, potential multi-scalar processes from below in the face of the new localism emerging in deprived neighbourhoods. The final section proposes new perspectives on local initiatives as a strategy to pursue urban social cohesion in the face of the current global crisis.

Epistemological challenges to urban social cohesion research: the role of transdisciplinarity - Andreas Novy, Daniela Coimbra de Souza and Frank Moulaert

Urban policy making over the last decades has been strongly influenced by the 'neoliberal counter revolution', which has had devastating effects on urban social cohesion. Privatisation of public and social housing, liberalisation of labour and financial markets, and large scale urban development projects as flagships of a competitive city have led to increasing inequalities between districts in cities and urban regions. This survey paper presents a wide-ranging analysis of the approaches to social cohesion in urban research and policy with the aim of improving social cohesion research methodology while at the same time providing empowering arguments to inhabitants to collectively shape their city. The first section dwells on social cohesion as an urban problématique. It argues that integrated and coherent territorial development is a prerequisite for urban social cohesion. Section 2 identifies and analyses types of urban policies and research, distinguishing between neoliberal, inclusive liberal and solidarity-based development as three paradigms of political philosophy underlying urban policy-making. Each of these paradigms holds epistemological premises, confining the urban problematic to the paradigm's ideological premises. The final section looks at the overall dynamics of urban development and social cohesion from a holistic perspective and presents alternative approaches and strategies to research on 'Social Cohesion and the City'. These alternatives are based on an epistemology that favours transdisciplinarity, deviant mainstreaming, and scale-sensitivity.


2. Educational resources

One of the final outcomes set out for SOCIAL POLIS was the creation of educational materials and pedagogical tools aiming at dissemination of knowledge and experiences gathered throughout the period of the project. For this purpose the consortium invited stakeholders to produce innovative educational materials to be funded by SOCIAL POLIS small grants. As a result, two stakeholders - Fundacio SURT, Barcelona and Mikeael Stigendaal, Malmö - delivered pedagogical materials popularising several SOCIAL POLIS survey papers.

2.1. Understanding Social Science blog

On the 15th of January 2010 Fundacio SURT launched a blog called Understanding Social Science which comprises interactive materials popularising the Survey Papers on 'Social polarisation, the labour market and economic restructuring in Europe: an urban perspective' (EF2), 'Housing, neighbourhood and health' (EF3), and 'Cities, social cohesion and the environment' (EF5). Moreover, a Spanish translation of the interactive resources on urban labour markets (EF2) has also been provided, so that the blog may be used by schools and civil society organisations in Spain and Latin America.

As blogs provide ICT tools of great popularity and broadly used by different people around the world nowadays, Understanding Social Science blog has sought to be a very effective tool for reaching broad non-academic audiences across Europe and beyond. The main objective of the blog has been to adapt the academic wording to a friendlier and easily accessible format. The blog Understanding Social Science has been organised in the following way: the initial page contains an explanation of the blog, as well as a description of the information included and its structure; then, for each theme, there is a tab with a title (e.g. Housing, Environment, Social Polarisation, etc.), which includes materials corresponding to each survey paper.

For each survey paper different kinds of interactive online materials have been provided:

* First, a powerpoint presentation, which summarises and synthesises main ideas of the survey paper, and provides information in a very didactic and visual way, using tables, diagrams and maps. All issues addressed in the survey papers have been translated into understandable and visually attractive combinations of texts and figures.

* Second, a list of topics that are approached in each survey paper where all the topics are hyperlinked with relevant information on each item. In this way, visitors of the blog can have direct access to those issues that are interesting to them.

* Third, a glossary of terms of key concepts from the survey papers is included on an additional tab. The glossary of terms gathers more than 50 definitions of concepts, both generic and specific. Some examples of the terms defined include: dualist housing systems, deregulated labour market, gentrification, informal economy, urban metabolism, socio-democratic State, migration, etc. Visitors can access the glossary directly on the tab or through the materials for each survey paper, since all the terms mentioned in these materials are linked to definitions. Some of the terms have links within Wikipedia, as a way to disseminate the glossary.

* Fourth, a questionnaire to evaluate a pedagogic tool for a particular survey paper and the blog as a whole.

Since the 15th of January 2010 when the Understanding Social Science blog was first launched Fundacio SURT has been promoting the use of this interactive tool through e-mail activities and peer website hyperlinking among all partners and stakeholders of SOCIAL POLIS, and SURT's own contacts including civil society organisations, research institutes, universities, and other interested parties. As a result, within the first two weeks since the blog went online it was viewed 1,548 times, as well as was rated very high in the online evaluation forms and achieved good positioning in main search engines.

2.2. Towards knowledge alliances stakeholder report

The second educational resource written by Mikeael Stigendaal in a form of an accessible report entitled Towards knowledge alliances, popularises the results of SOCIAL POLIS with regard to the theme "Cohesion of the city as a whole". It draws upon the two survey papers which deal with this theme - the conceptual paper on social cohesion and its political clarifications (EF0) and the paper on 'Epistemological challenges to urban social cohesion research' (EF12). Highlights from the themes addressed in other papers, such as housing, labour market, and diversity have been picked up in the report as well. This educational resource favours re-contextualisation of science by letting the relationship between the researchers and the stakeholders serve as a kind of thread throughout the report. It presents SOCIAL POLIS as a new kind of project, where an innovative stakeholder involvement formula - of a social platform - and transdisciplinary approach have been used. Above all, the report puts an emphasis on making SOCIAL POLIS relevant for a wider audience. It does so by anchoring the project in the current reality of stakeholders, making sense of the European dimension, explaining the approach to social cohesion as a problématique, and indicating what an alternative approach would mean.

* First, to gain a foothold in the everyday European life the report discusses the use of the concept of social cohesion. Is it really a general issue and is this issue everywhere known as one of social cohesion? What does the issue of social cohesion include? - a stakeholder would ask: Is the work that I do as a stakeholder included? Do my experiences count? What problems and experiences am I invited to discuss in SOCIAL POLIS? For many stakeholders, the term 'social cohesion' is understood as a solution. In their practical reality, this is what they are looking for, although they perhaps do not call it social cohesion. They are looking for solutions to problems. And suddenly somebody comes and talks about social cohesion. And it is not anybody but a whole European project with a number of researchers from different countries and disciplines. Social cohesion is an old problématique which has its background in the emergence of capitalism. In recent years, a particular approach to social cohesion has become mainstream blaming individuals and making the existing social order appear as natural. SOCIAL POLIS reveals the background of this particular approach, called inclusive liberalism. Many stakeholders would probably recognise it, in particular when SOCIAL POLIS mentions in concrete terms how the problems are defined on the basis of this approach. Indeed, redefining the problems is emphasised by the popular report as a major reason to why SOCIAL POLIS is such an urgent project. As claimed in the conceptual paper (EF0), "to define what is to be considered as a problem is no simple, value-free decision. It implies deep insights into the life world of urban inhabitants as well as structural knowledge about causalities, contexts and time-space-regularities."

* Second, this educational resource makes sense of the European dimension by presenting results from SOCIAL POLIS, and explaining differences and similarities respectively. It highlights to what extent practitioners working in urban neighbourhoods around Europe face the same problems. It provides reasons for stakeholders to be interested in others' work and learn from each other. An important difference concerns the housing systems which, according to the survey paper on housing, neighbourhood, and health (EF3) can be identified with regard to their place on a continuum between unitary and dualist models. This paper highlights widespread fragmentation experienced across Europe of previously more unitary housing systems. In terms of housing systems, cities across Europe tend to become less socially cohesive. Another dualism has appeared in immigration policies. According to the paper on urban labour markets (EF2), it means that some highly-skilled immigrants are granted work permits while simultaneously others are relegated to the status of undocumented workers, destined to work in the informal economy. This dualism becomes particularly devastating for social cohesion in countries with deregulated labour markets. Yet, the devastating effects of these interactions between deregulated labour markets and dualistic immigration policies tend to be made an issue of ethnicity. This is highlighted by the survey paper on diversity and place (EF9) as one of the shortcomings in the debates. SOCIAL POLIS puts the problems in a comparative European framework and thereby offers a much better understanding of them.

* Third, the Towards knowledge alliances report points to the fact that all these questions and challenges are included in what SOCIAL POLIS calls the problématique of social cohesion. Addressing social cohesion as a problématique urges a profound change of attention. It means not to take the problems for granted. Problems have to be redefined, but not on the basis of the very powerful approach, called inclusive liberalism, which has come to dominate so much of thinking, policies and problem-solving in the last decades. Instead, a new approach is needed that treats the existing order as something created and temporal. Many of those excluded from this order would probably be happy about such a turn as it leads to another perception of them. Instead of treating them as problems and disturbances of a natural order, it would allow their potential to be used. According to the experience of Swedish stakeholders, one potential of this kind, which has been further explored by SOCIAL POLIS, lays in the intercultural competence among young people in multicultural neighbourhoods.

But why confine the issue of social cohesion to cities? For stakeholders the answer would be quite obvious. It is in cities where divisions and lack of social cohesion have become so apparent. For the researchers, social cohesion is a societal issue. Several SOCIAL POLIS Existential Fields show how crucial the local dimension has become in welfare policies. The role of local actors has increased in both design and implementation. Thus, besides being arenas of the lack of social cohesion, cities are spaces where social cohesion is to an increasing extent decided upon. Local decision-making has become increasingly important, reflected in the use of the term 'governance'. As a consequence, urban citizenship has emerged as a new form of citizenship. To understand the implications of this a scale-sensitive approach in research and policy-making has to be adopted.

Fourth, this educational resource stresses that the alternative approach SOCIAL POLIS pleads for insists on a structural change. But how and in what direction? What structural changes would be needed to make society more cohesive? In fact, stakeholders know a lot about this, although they do not necessarily call it social cohesion. They have an experience-based knowledge coming from many efforts and attempts, some of them successful, at least in some respects. For them, in their every-day reality, what the researchers regard as utopia might once have been made real but perhaps existed just for a short while, in a very limited context, and nobody else as yet knows about it.

The experience-based knowledge is what stakeholders from different fields have to contribute. The challenge is to continue the re-contextualisation of science by involving stakeholders on an equal footing, enabling them to take part on the conditions favourable to them and not only to the researchers. On the basis of transdisciplinary experiences of SOCIAL POLIS a new term has been coined. SOCIAL POLIS has paved the way for the development of knowledge alliances. This new term aims to stress the mutuality needed in the further work. Many different kinds of knowledge have to be mobilised in a struggle to make the cities more cohesive and democratic, a place where people are allowed to be different and yet are able to live together.

Potential Impact:
Potential impacts

Social Polis came into being with the ambitious mission of innovating research on social cohesion and the city in Europe by means of creative and intensive interaction between researchers and practitioners. Social Polis has come to the end of the contractual period. It finishes its undertaking with the legacy of a successful open platform for dialogue between groups concerned with a comprehensive research agenda that was collectively constructed by academics and stakeholders, in which social cohesion in urban spaces is innovatively approached in a multidimensional and integrated way.

All objectives have been fully accomplished. Constructing a social platform was a social innovation in research and urban practice, stimulated by the DG Research SSH programme. It aimed at collectively building a research agenda and gave rise to positive results in different dimensions:

An innovative conceptual approach to social cohesion in cities that takes the multidimensionality into consideration and seeks to overcome fragmented analyses and strategies in the cultural, social and economic domain. Social cohesion is not exhaustively captured by solely studying problems of multiculturalism and migration, or only focussing on poverty and social exclusion. The approach to social cohesion in the city, used in SOCIAL POLIS, started by dividing the research into 12 Existential Fields to investigate the different dimensions of cohesion , e.g. employment and labour, identity, culture, welfare and public services, housing, regional inequalities, social exclusion, etc. But right from the beginning, the platform used a holistic approach to urban social cohesion, in which urban spaces are understood in their complexity and in an interactive way in which elements from specific fields are included in a general comprehensive view on urban social cohesion. These principles informed the development of SOCIAL POLIS survey papers that will be published in a Special Issue of Urban Studies on 'Cities and Social Cohesion'.

The research agenda which was collectively built took into consideration the real-life social cohesion problems which inhabitants and policy makers experience in cities. From the beginning, the research agenda was intended to be a product of the interaction and dialogue between researchers and practitioners' communities. Useful knowledge was accumulated, a high level of understanding of the issues policy makers and social movements face on a daily basis was achieved, and practitioners acquired insights in the way academics construct their knowledge. Social Polis has built unity in diversity on a small scale.

The transversal principles that were identified from this collective work process as substantial for further collaborative research on cities and social cohesion, were integrated in all themes of the Focused Research Agenda:

- Interactive Research with Public Engagement: Stakeholders should be integrated into research on an equal footing and right from the beginning, to guarantee the participative specification and implementation of a research agenda which is relevant for policy makers, social movements, NGOs, entrepreneurs, politicians and concerned people in general.

- Holistic approach: Research and policy-making must take the complexity and multidimensionality of social cohesion into account by considering the city as a whole. Overcoming fragmentation is decisive to successful research and policy-making for tackling social exclusion in the city.

- Scale-Sensitivity: Not all neighbourhood problems can be solved at the neighbourhood level. Scale-sensitive research links micro- and macro-studies and analyses covering different levels of complexity. The places where cohesion is lived do not necessarily coincide with those where it is created or hollowed-out.

Social Polis involved local, European and global activities. The dialogue between scientists and stakeholders started with workshops organised by stakeholders using small grants supplied by the SOCIAL POLIS network. Furthermore, all scientific partners organised activities to integrate their local stakeholder groups. These local workshops enhanced local ties and allowed influencing local policy and other collective strategies to tackle problems threatening cohesion. The interaction was then expanded to other stakeholders and these involved at a higher scale to share and compare experiences with others dealing with similar issues at a European and global level.

While building this social platform a considerable amount of experience and knowledge about transdisciplinary methodology and methods of science communication and interaction between representatives of the different fields (including the awareness of difficulties and conflicts) was generated. Through the process relations and bonds of trust between the stakeholders and partners were tightened and now serve as major assets for continuing the work as a social platform.

Nevertheless, SOCIAL POLIS encountered a few difficulties. The main issues were to make stakeholders aware that participation in the social platform was a valid experience for their professional life and would contribute to their ability to become involved in the definition of research agendas. Entering new avenues of stakeholder involvement and addressing structural problems related to the nature of funding require new ways of designing EC funded projects, including Social Platforms.

Which particular problems of stakeholder involvement arose from the experience of SOCIAL POLIS? We identified seven:

1) The practice community did not always have a clear idea about the benefits from collaboration with the academic world and the DG Research resulting in the elaboration of a research agenda for the European Commission. Although the ideas, goals and expected outcomes of SOCIAL POLIS were clear to the stakeholders, the final purpose and the actual use of the Focused Research Agenda needed further clarification. However, they expressed the need for relevant and applied research on urban social cohesion, as well as for transparency and democratic access to European databases. As many stakeholders were not familiar with the scientific Framework Programs of the European Commission, many doubts rose. The underlying problem was that stakeholders were more concerned with immediate issues and daily practices than with a long-term research perspective which they sometimes perceived as too abstract and too distant from concrete local concerns of their organisations. Therefore, SOCIAL POLIS Lead Partners explained to their stakeholders the FP's relevance for both urban research and practice. In addition, in the second year of the contractual period, after the first call on local welfare systems coming out from their work in SOCIAL POLIS had been published, it was also clearer to stakeholders how several themes they were contributing to would be picked up by the Commission in the future. This has also helped in building stakeholder trust and stimulating further involvement. A problem however, remained in explaining how the results of such projects are translated into European policies, and what is the actual relevance of these policies in local settings.

Transdisciplinary projects such as SOCIAL POLIS can empower stakeholders, but clear, effective, and relatively fast political influence of the outcome of the participation process is necessary for this purpose. The lack of visible intermediate outcomes and advantages of social platforms, and short-term benefits for stakeholders, on the contrary, constitutes a strong demotivating factor for them. On the one hand, this calls on academics to formulate and communicate clear recommendations for future European research and policy-making, as well as to involve influential policy-makers in research consortia. On the other hand, this requires a greater involvement of the DG Research in informing European policies and making this involvement more visible to stakeholders. Finally, this urges the European Commission as a whole to rethink and clearly explain the relevance of European documents and policies for local urban settings to stakeholders.

2) A question emerged regarding the role of the stakeholders in the definition of the Focused Research Agenda. Some stakeholders were concerned whether they were acting as consultants or were asked to participate directly in the elaboration of the final research agenda. This problem was solved through the debates taking place at local workshops and at the Vienna conference in which the mechanisms of the Social Platform were put into practice. This allowed for direct participation of stakeholders willing to contribute and to become involved in the Social Polis learning-by-doing process. For future social platforms it is crucial to include stakeholders from the very beginning of the project, i.e. from the stage of its design, and to clearly communicate the key goals of this involvement. The outcome and mutual benefit of the collaboration should be more visible from the very beginning in order to foster the motivation to participate.

3) It remained unclear to many stakeholders whether and how they would be able to participate in future research projects. SOCIAL POLIS as a platform had to go beyond the usual 'academics consulting stakeholders' exercise. It is not clear how the European Commission itself will be favouring joint projects of academics and non-academics researching on 'social cohesion and the city'. Social Polis has informed its stakeholders about various funding opportunities for joint research.

4) Many stakeholders are committed to their professional duties and have little time and resources to participate in collaboration with the research community, especially in times of economic hardship. Most stakeholders simply had no budgets for such networking activities, and they had to devote time and work to their engagement in the Social Platform without any remuneration. It is absolutely necessary to make sure that non-academic stakeholders, small organisations from the NGO sector in particular, receive funding for collaborating in the platform. SOCIAL POLIS addressed this issue through a substantial increase of the initial budget for stakeholder projects - workshops, papers and audiovisual materials, and educational resources - that were produced by stakeholders under the Social Polis small grants schemes. These schemes were really successful and greatly appreciated by stakeholders, but future social platforms should go far beyond this form of remuneration. Therefore, DG Research should secure specific budgets for stakeholders' involvement in social platforms and transdisciplinary research activities. The condition of involvement of several organisations from different sectors in the consortia responding to FP7 calls is a step forward in this direction. It does not, however, solve the problem of the involvement of many small, but important organisations which would not usually become full partners but mostly suffer from the lack of resources keeping them from participating in a solid way.

5) Language difficulties have continued to be a problem, especially when the engagement of stakeholders moved from the local to the international level, with the Vienna conference and the subsequent finalisation of the research agenda as milestones. To the stakeholders who decided to participate in these activities it was necessary to offer a strong organisational support, with translations from and into English of papers and communications. The SOCIAL POLIS consortium tried to mitigate this problem through discussing the Focused Research Agenda in detail at several local workshops, providing stakeholders with French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish translations of strategic documents, organising translation services and sessions in Spanish at major events, and delivering educational resources in Spanish on the blog that was subcontracted to Spanish stakeholders. Dissemination through summaries and training sessions for the stakeholders and production of educational tools in national languages both for practitioners and for the larger public will be major challenges for future social platforms. The European Commission should also ensure that the command of English is not an implicit selection criterion as it may lead to privileging certain stakeholders and partners, especially organisations from Northern Europe and Brussels-based international networks, and, as such, exclude protagonists of certain local agendas, ideas, and interests that are not always successfully captured by international umbrella organisations.

6) Linking to the previous point, communication through e-mail distribution lists and the website has not always been successful. The more individuals, groups, and organisations are involved in a multilingual and pluri-professional community of stakeholders, the more difficult non-customized communication becomes. Although online tools are crucial to network communication, the practice of SOCIAL POLIS proves that face-to-face communication and local events are more effective in actively involving stakeholders. When e-mail communication is concerned an effort should be made by future social platforms to address stakeholders individually rather than through distribution lists. Possible use of social networking media should also be explored. This could also be important for the communicative practice of the European Commission. Whilst the European press releases are widely read in EU circles, new mechanisms for informing stakeholders of projects and initiatives need to be put in place. More personal or at least more targeted communication should be put in place through the development of databases with stakeholder profiles, where particular interests, as well as past actions and contributions of stakeholders are recorded, and that could dispatch filtered information about outcomes of past initiatives and arising funding opportunities to customized target groups.

7) Sustainability of the platform is a major, if not most important issue. The logic of project funding seems to contradict the logic of building social platforms. There is a need for a longer time-frame in order to successfully construct and sustain a platform. It was not a coincidence that organisations which had had a previous history of collaboration with SOCIAL POLIS Lead Partners proved to be much less sceptical about mutual benefits from the cooperation with researchers and overall goals of the project than newcomers to the social platform, in the first year of the contractual period in particular. Time has been absolutely crucial: to building mutual trust and capitalising on synergies; to the accommodation of a platform to different personalities and styles of work involved; as well as to effective integration of different disciplinary perspectives and methodologies. In other words, time is needed for building a successful socially inclusive, diverse, but cohesive social platform.

SOCIAL POLIS reached its provisional end at the moment when the platform had gained its momentum - but is continued as a communication tool on alternative funding sources. Solutions beyond the logical conclusion time frame include institutionalisation of Social Polis, establishment of permanent secretariats, and securing long term funding for stakeholder involvement (e.g. in a form of small grants over longer periods). The logic of close involvement of stakeholders in the development of a research agenda and of the concept of a social platform would also suggest that the next step is joint research with non-academic stakeholders within funded research teams. For the researchers it is crucial that transdisciplinary research is valorised and that the involvement of practitioners in research increases not only the relevance but also its quality and excellence.
List of Websites:
Name, title and organisation of the scientific representative of the project's coordinator:

Frank Moulaert

Professor of Spatial Planning

ASRO - Faculty of Engineering

KU Leuven

Kasteelpark Arenberg 51 - Bus 2429

B-3001 Heverlee


Visiting Professor

School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape

Newcastle University

Claremont Tower

Newcastle Upon Tyne


Tel: +32 16 320380

Fax: +32 16 3219 81


Project website address: