1. Cities locked in metropolitan regions


Marta Lackowska (University of Warsaw, m.lackowska@uw.edu.pl)
Katarzyna Szmigiel-Rawska (University of Warsaw, k.szmigiel@uw.edu.pl)
Filip Teles (University of Aveiro, filipe.teles@ua.pt)

None of the urban conferences these days can be complete without mentioning metropolitan regions and their special features. These territories are considered nodes in a global space of flows, and especially as sites for innovation and growth, as complex and therefore often problematic socio-economic systems, as laboratories of democracy as well as of globalisation and Europeanisation processes. Being strong economic and political centres, metropolitan areas can be a source of advantages and benefits both for the core city and for suburban municipalities. However, they can also pose a barrier to social, economic and political development. It depends on the capacity to collaborate and to cross borders – local and international ones, as well as physical and mental. Therefore, in a territory locked in multiple scalar realities, the challenges of its governance puts significant pressure on inter-organisational collaboration, bureaucratic culture, political leadership, economic development strategies and multi-level governance.

Relations in metropolitan regions can be analysed from various perspectives. This track explores the networks created in the political, social and economic systems in metropolitan regions, especially issues of:

  • Metropolitan citizenship, the question of territorial identity and metropolitan solidarity among citizens
  • Democratic mechanisms in metropolitan multi-level systems
  • Inter-municipal cooperation and competition in metropolitan regions, specialisation and complementary offer (mechanisms of competitive advantage building)
  • Political relations between municipalities and the institutional setting of metropolitan regions
  • Economic development of various parts of metropolitan regions
  • Social challenges in metropolitan regions (social exclusion, pathologies, criminality, poverty)
  • Problems with coherent / complementary spatial planning in metropolitan regions
  • Service delivery in metropolitan regions

The main question is what are the barriers which contemporary cities have to overcome to build efficient networks in metropolitan regions?

Pre-organised panels

Housing Policy in comparative perspective
Björn Egner

In all countries, there is a rise of the city as the home for people. Increasing job opportunities, the education sector and the promise of modern and dense infrastructure in metropoltan areas are attracting more and more population while the space for living is limited within the city borders.
At the same time, the state itself is on retreat. After thirty years of neo-liberal policies in Europe, public housing is heavily under pressure. Politics has increasingly relied on market mechanisms, but today’s condition of the cities’ housing markets prove the theory at least disputable. On the whole, “the market” has not generated enough appropriate supply for the demand which is currently visible; not to mention future needs.
In times of economic crisis, the answer to the housing problems rests in the cities itself. But cities are also affected by the crises, which means that their spending power is also limited. Thus, it is time for cities to act in the field of housing. But what are clever policy solutions in times of austerity?
The panel aims at housing policy or social housing instruments in European comparative perspective. We welcome comparative studies of housing policy over different countries as well as reports from a single country. Furthermore, we want to encourage colleagues to present single case studies of modern housing policy starting stemming from the local level.

The post-Trump reform of metropolitan governance
Robin Hambleton

Donald Trump’s shock victory in the US presidential election is deeply troubling.  The public commentary on the result has focussed on the fact that the President-elect has unleashed forces of hate and bigotry.  US citizens, and citizens elsewhere, are rightly concerned about the future trajectory of US foreign and domestic policy.  However, largely overlooked in the public discourse, it is the case that US cities rejected Trump in large numbers.  Exit polls suggest that, in cities with over 50,000 residents, a significant majority cast their ballot for Hilary Clinton (59%), with Trump winning just 35%.  We can anticipate that city leaders in the US will resist the divisive policies that the President-elect will surely introduce.  In Europe, too, there is often a stark contrast between the political views of urban residents and people who live in the rural hinterlands of cities and city regions.  This rapidly changing political environment, which includes national elections in Germany and France in 2017, provides the context for this forward-looking panel on metropolitan governance.

The panel will bring together a set of up-to-date research papers exploring the current moves to reform metropolitan governance in various European countries.  Questions that will be addressed include:

  • Why, in the dominant discourse, are these moves towards metropolitan governance being proposed and/or introduced?
  • Who is gaining and who is losing power as a result of these reforms?
  • Given the US experience, are there progressive possibilities for metropolitan reform that may have, so far, gone unnoticed?
  • What recommendations can urban scholars make about how to improve metropolitan governance in their respective countries?