Research Department: Regeneration of Cities and Towns
Project Leader within IRS: Dr. Manfred Kühn
Project Team: PD Dr. Matthias Bernt Daniel Förste Dr. Laura Colini
Duration: 01/2012 - 12/2014
This departmental lead project concluded a six year research period on the peripheralisation of cities. Thereby, peripheralisation was understood as a multidimensional concept that encompasses a number of distinct socio-spatial processes. These include a decoupling from innovation dynamics linked to the knowledge economy and/or infrastructural networks, strcutures of dependency from centralised political and political decision-making, and/or negative effects resulting from brain drain. In many cities, peripheralisation results in demographic shrinkage, vacant buildings, and a concentration of social problems (poverty, unemployment, exclusion).
The lead project studied how urban policies address the above mentioned processes. The following questions were of particular interest:
How do socio-spatial processes of peripheralisation impact changing modes of governance?
What influence do changing modes of governance have on socio-spatial processes of peripheralisation?
The lead project has built on and enhanced existing theories of peripheralisation by drawing on theories of segregation, marginalisation and exclusion. As such, the project has contributed to theory-building. The project sought to refine actor-centred and action-centred concepts, and to reflect on whether theories of peripheralisation can be adapted to various spatial scales. The project's theoretical approach was inspired by institutional and governance-based spatial research, as well as by community power structure research.
On an empirical level, the project has made advances in two respects. On the one hand, it reflected on the way in which mid-sized cities are situated within their respective environments. This perspective is vital, as recent studies have argued that peripheral centres are losing importance, while much research in spatial studies and spatial politics has normatively ascribed a stabilising role to mid-sized cities within peripheral, rural regions (deeming them 'spatial anchors' or 'centres of growth'). It was for this reason that the project examined instances of regional cooperation and competition in Pirmasens and Stendal, while also analysing connected modes of governance in these peripheralised spaces. On the other hand, the lead project assessed whether the concept of peripheralised mid-size cities in structurally weak regions can also be applied to better understand the development of metropolitan districts. For this purpose, a large housing estate on the outskirts of Halle was examined.
The project sought to identify in what sense urban development policies contribute to or mollify processes of marginalisation. Case studies conducted on the cities of Pirmasens, Stendal and Halle revealed that peripheralisation processes are in part caused by actors and governance processes, and thus by forms of power. Several explanatory accounts for this 'making' of socio-spatial peripheralisation processes were then developed in numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and a monograph.