Crisis, urban segregation and social innovation in Catalonia

Paper presentat a l’ECPR General Conference

Glasgow, 3-6 Setembre 2014


This paper interrogates the contribution of social innovation to the capacity of disadvantaged communities to resist the effects of the crisis. It does so on the basis of a study on the dynamics of urban segregation and social innovation in the context of the crisis in Catalonia (Spain). The study adopts a multi-method approach that combines the statistical analysis of urban segregation dynamics in the 2001-2012 period; the mapping of social innovation practices across the region; and a cross-case comparison of 6 case studies. The paper highlights the structural and metropolitan character of urban segregation in the region, which has seriously aggravated in the context of the crisis and of the residential transformations occurred during the years of the housing bubble. It also shows that social innovation practices do not concentrate in the most disadvantaged communities but in middle-income areas with a tradition of social mobilisation. Community resilience in disadvantaged urban areas is largely dependant on the capacity of governmental and non-governmental actors to work jointly to face the challenges of communities. All in all, the paper warns against the risks of transferring to social innovation the responsibility for social cohesion in cities and highlights the need of multi-scalar policies with redistributive effects between municipalities and urban areas.

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