CFP: Public spaces and private lives in the contemporary city

DSCN2562European Sociological Association. Research Network 37 “Urban Sociology” Mid-Term Conference. Public spaces and private lives in the contemporary city
 Lisbon, FCSH-UNL, 19-21st November 2014
Organisation: CESNOVA, FCSH-UNL and IS-FLUP, in cooperation with Dinâmia’CET-IUL, CIES-IUL and CES-UC

Urban Sociology ‘s history is as old as Sociology itself. Urban Sociology can be found on classic literature: Durkheim’s concepts of social morphology and organic solidarity; Weber and the genesis of the city; Simmel and the representations of the metropolis; Engels and the working class’ ways to inhabit the city; and, last but not least, the school of Chicago with authors such as Robert E. Park or Louis Wirth. Today, there is a renewed interest in urban issues and urban questions have gained a new focus in public policies and public debate. Themes such as public spaces, suburbs, urban security, urban violence, ways of inhabiting, transitions from rural to urban, neighborhood and proximity, urban inequalities, etc.; returned to the sociological debate with an unexpected force in globalisation times. Research is also debating the impact of current economic crisis on urban life, and how to re-think cities on the aftermath. Being an area with a cumulative critical thought, Urban Sociology’s contribution is key for the development of the discipline as a whole, and for the understanding of our multiple and unachieved modernities. For this Midterm Conference, which inaugurates ESA’s Research Network in Urban Sociology, we invite submissions addressing a wide variety of issues, as suggested in the four conference tracks. We accept both theoretical and empirical papers contributing to the development of Urban Sociology, and we welcome interdisciplinarity, as a requisite for broadening the scope of scientific research.

CFP: Girls and boys at play in multicultural urban contexts. Exploring difference in public space  trough sportive and ludic experiences

This Session aims to explore boys and girls, children and teens, experiences of sport, play and leisure activities in urban space through a gender and a generational perspective. The relationship between childhood/youth and urban space has always characterized the public debate and the literature of sociology of childhood and children’s geography. In Western countries, children and teens are in fact, more than other groups of people, subject to space restrictions, justified for reasons of care and protection, and regulated in their access to public space.
On the one hand, the discourse about young boys in the public space – especially with foreign origins -, is often alarmist and trite, marked by the hypervisibility of the way they look, dress and behave and focusing either on risk of violence or marginalization. On the other hand, gendered interpretations of children experience reveal that girls have even less autonomy and freedom in the urban space. If the public discourse about women, especially foreign women, is constructed through a process of cultural essentialism and sexualization of their bodies, the interpretation of the identity of girls with immigrant background is even more ambiguous, constrained between two forms of belonging represented as monolithic and often at odds.
Recreational spaces for sport and leisure, formal and informal, play a key role in the daily life of young generations and in the transformation of cities as places of everyday multiculturalism. Such spaces can in fact become breeding ground for the shaping of new forms of living together and the construction and de-construction of the dominant canons of corporeality upon which the socio-spatial urban order is affirmed.
The aim of this session is therefore to explore this field in order to understand which socio-economic factors, cultural models and policies foster or discourage the recognition of their citizenship in public spaces in multicultural urban contexts. How do boys and girls make their place in urban space trough leisure, sport and play activities? How difference is negotiated in such practices and spaces and how are their bodies lived and managed in public? How is the boundary between public and private space constructed? Are these spaces at risk of ethnicization and segregation between genders or mixed spaces where “living together in difference” becomes possible?

People interested are invited to send us the title of their presentation and a brief explanation of their research (200 words approx), by the 13th of July. Please include affiliation and contact information. The aim of the session is so to prepare a special issue on this topic for an international journal (more details will be furnished after the 13th of July). Proposal and enquiries can be submitted to Roberta Marzorati ( and Caterina Satta (

Conference tracks

  1. Culture and mega events in contemporary cities

Cultural and festive dynamics are strongly related to great physical, social, cultural and economic transformations in cities worldwide, often involving the (re)production of both established and new urban inequalities. This conference track aims to debate this broad issue but also the more specific phenomena of cultural and sports mega events and the way they contribute to re-shape cities and their public spaces by challenging urban coexistence.

  1. Networks and sociabilities

Sociability has progressively been a concept of intense debate within the scope of social sciences in general, and sociology in particular. In this track we are interested in discussing the role of urban sociability on the construction of social networks and the configuration of circuits. Specially in the context of social, political, cultural and artistic movements. We welcome papers focusing on both online and offline social networks, as well as interdisciplinary research about sociability in contemporary society.

  1. Public and private tensions in urban places, lives and meanings

Public and private uses of urban space are key aspects in the tense and conflictual processes of creating and remaking places. This track is concerned with topics like (1) power, urban form and experience, namely in the relation between urban management / administration practices and everyday uses of spaces (e.g. shopping malls, gated communities, slums, plazas, streets and urban voids); (2) (in)visibility and (un)awereness of both private troubles and public issues (e.g. in labour, housing, mobility and leisure) and their impact on placemaking and everyday life of urban populations; (3) conditions of coexistence of urban groups and individuals (e.g. visitors and residents, neighbours and strangers, tourists and workers, commuters and trapped populations) and its effects on urban spaces, lives and meanings.

  1. Territories of exclusion and (in)security

Security and the feeling of insecurity has always been central to the urban social fabric. Portrayal of the city as an insecure place has been a very powerful one, triggering the constitution and reconstitution of institutions, strategies, tactics, technologies and techniques undertaken by multiple actors from state and local associations to individual schemes of public and private safety. In this track we aim to address these issues and discuss how they are intrinsic elements in the production and reproduction of urban territories and urban social groups.



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