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Reducing Boundaries

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Insight into social exclusion and boundaries through the study of urban elites’ security strategies

Compared to the underprivileged, the upper class creates different strategies and interventions for securing their private and public spaces.

Society
Security
Fundamental Research

Given the worldwide growing economic gap between the lower and upper class, research has focused on this disparity and its consequences. In-depth analysis continues to emphasise how the poor and lower middle classes inhabit space or might be evicted from it. There is a lack of knowledge on the urban safety and security practices of the privileged. Thanks to EU funding, the REDUCING BOUNDARIES project explored how the affluent perceive and reproduce a sense of safety and security, and how this transforms urban regions. To gain a better understanding, the REDUCING BOUNDARIES team compared strategies and interventions for securing private and public spaces in the wealthy urban areas of Belgium, Brazil and Italy through public policies and self-made interventions. Project partners carried out three case studies in Brussels, Porto Alegre and the Veneto region. Activities included literature reviews, mapping of criminality and security devices/systems, interviews with various public and private stakeholders, and direct observation, as well as data collection and analysis for topics such as laws, regulations, administrative acts and case laws. The cases enabled researchers to identify prejudices in the perception of risk and safety and to make specific urban trends recognisable and manageable by local institutions. They also focused on the different strategies of appropriation and defence of space that higher classes have devised to create a secure and comfortable environment for them, their families and businesses. Team members compared safety and security issues in Brussels and Porto Alegre. This shed light on the driving forces of global interactions and interdependencies, the relations between world regions, the factors shaping different policies and potential forward-looking urban perspectives. REDUCING BOUNDARIES contributed to the growing need for scholarship aimed at ensuring security and freedom in EU Member States, both within and across national borders. This should help offset phenomena that tend to increase social exclusion and poverty, including the rising economic gap among social classes, ageing, inequality, migration flows and the digital divide.

Keywords

Social exclusion, upper class, public spaces, urban safety, REDUCING BOUNDARIES

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