The Right to the City: The Entitled and the Excluded

The Right to the City: The Entitled and the Excluded

(The Urban Reinventors, Special issue, November 2009)

Over 40 years after Henry Lefebvre’s Le Droit à la Ville (“The Right to the City”, 1968) was conceived, the notion of a “renewed right to urban life”, or in other words “a right to an equitable usufruct of cities within the principles of sustainability, democracy, equity, and social justice” has hardly ever seemed as out of reach as it does today.

The ongoing unfolding of the global recession, whose consequences have been devastating particularly to disadvantaged communities worldwide, is once again highlighting the underlying contradictions and the sistemic dysfunctionality of dominant models of profit-driven urbanization. In the U.S., the recession has spurred a widening gap between rich and poor, while a wave of foreclosures has sent thousands of once-middle class households in the streets, in homeless shelters, or in “tent cities”, in the midst of an ocean of vacant properties (see Kathy Sanborn, in this issue). Yet again, the most dramatic human costs of this crisis are to be seen among the poor across the developing world: the World Bank has estimated that up to 90 million extra people world-wide have fallen into extreme poverty (less than US $1.25 per day) in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown. This represents a reversal in the global extreme poverty reduction trend since 2005, with the global number of extreme poor rising to over 1.2 billion people only this year.

This notwithstanding, in the latest years a revival of interest in Henri Lefebvre’s ideas on “the right to the city” has propagated among scholars and activists alike, as a way to counteract market-driven urbanism and commit to values of human dignity and human rights for all […]

Alessandro Busà – Chief editor of “The Urban Reinventors” Journal.

From: The Urban Re/inventors (