Keynote lectures


Enzo Mingione

Professor Enzo MINGIONE

The city, unsustainable development and the limits of social innovation

Enzo Mingione is is Professor of Sociology at the University of Milano-Bicocca. He is Head of the Doctoral School in Comparative Social Science of the University of Milano-Bicoca. He figures among the founder editors of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and is also President of the Fondazione Bignaschi in  Milano (Foundation for the assistance and study of the aged). His main fields of interest are poverty, social exclusion, informal sector, unemployment, economic and urban sociology.


Abstract of the presentation. The presentation discusses the limits and contradictions of the perspective of “Smart City” – a city open and centred on social innovation experiences from below – as a possible solution to the tensions of contemporary capitalist development.

Three main areas of discussion will be involved:

  1. The question of the unsustainability of contemporary capitalist development and of the process of commodification.
  2. The perspectives opened by social innovation experiences in terms of sharing economy, the pursuit of Commons and the promotion of forms of decommodification and community resilience.
  3. The question of the local / city as an autonomous level of economic and political organization.

The presentation will focus on some experiences of social innovation in European Cities oriented to shared economies, commons, solidarity and other social practices that contrast the commodification process. The presentation will underline the importance of these experiences as resilience and resistance to increasing inequalities and social tensions produced by the process of global financialization. However, the presentation will also point to the limits, and negative social fragmentation and social division effects of these experiences of social innovation. The critical tensions produced by the interconnection of financial and political interests towards austerity, decreasing social rights and social protection, increasing social vulnerability cannot be contrasted only by micro social innovation experiences or local forms of solidarity and political commitments but by the mobilization of a more generalized political agency on large scale.


Professor Iwona SAGAN

  The transformative power of the post-socialist transforming cities

Professors Sagan is Head of the Department of Economic Geography and Head the of RECOURSE Centre of Excellence – “Research and Education Centre for Urban Socio-Economic Development” at the University of Gdańsk, Poland. Her research focuses on urban and regional policy, the development of metropolitan regions, the theory and methodology of regional studies, studies of place, and territorial identity studies.


Abstract of the presentation. The post-socialist cities are undergoing dynamic changes imposed by the multifold processes of systemic transformation and neoliberal turn in global socio-economic systems. The collapse of the centrally controlled state (re)created the cities as the self-governing territorial units. The fragility of the newly born democracy, the reformulation of the territorial planning systems and the lagging post-socialist economy resulted in the yet more rapid and concentrated to the cities growth. Cities become one of the most significant player at the economic, social and political stage. In the process of the state system reconstruction, capital cities have gained especially strong position, turning polycentric settlement structures into more monocentric patterns which are strongly core-periphery polarized. There is an ongoing struggle between urban and regional policy for their future positions and role in the state’s system. The ongoing debate on metropolitan areas creation well illustrates the tensions between territorial levels of the power structures. The urban policy seems to be much better tuned to the still strong sectoral organization of the economic policy and planning systems being the legacy of post-socialist states, than more strongly territorially oriented regional policies. Weakly mitigated by the rolling back welfare measures, entrepreneurial urban policies have launched the processes of social polarization. Unbalanced housing market, gentrification processes of the inner-cities, gated communities sprawl all over the urbanized spaces, commercialization of the public places are shaping the new urban social space. But these processes gave birth to the urban social movements which successfully shaken the political stage. The national urban policy, revitalization policy, participatory planning procedures are all new legislation acts which are under preparation in the response to the demands of the awakened civil society.


Gerry Stoker.jpgProfessor Gerry STOKER

The Re-Emergence of Place in Politics: Cosmopolitan and Provincial Dynamics in Contemporary Democracies

Gerry Stoker is Professor of Politics and Governance at the University of Southampton, UK. Professor Stoker’s main research interests are in governance, democratic politics, local and regional governance, urban politics, public participation and public service reform. He was the founding chair of the New Local Government Network and is also an expert advisor to the Council of Europe on local government and participation issues


Abstract. This presentation explores how the changing economic geography of contemporary democracies is transforming the dynamic of their politics. It is premised on a stylised contrast between cosmopolitan and provincial places. A cosmopolitan place is likely to be economically attuned to the demands of a post crash and post industrial world with a clear role and fit to the demands of a globalised world. A base in science, technology, media and other high value production and service capacity is likely to be present. It will most likely be ethically and culturally diverse place with a balanced population across the age range and in particular seen as a positive location for younger generations. A provincial locality in contrast will be characterised by traditional and declining economic activity. Its role and future in the global economy might be characterised as left behind and its population will tend to dominated by less diverse blocs and a considerable swathe of the middle-aged and elderly. The argument is that increasingly divergent place-based dynamics- reflected in the contrast between cosmopolitan and provincial localities- are having an effect on the operation of contemporary democracies. Politics is becoming less national in tone and more spatially specific and concentrated. Cosmopolitan areas are developing a dynamic of critical, post-representative politics and provincial areas are more prone to various forms of withdrawal and populism. Place is emerging as key driver of the dynamics of contemporary democracy.


vetterProfessor Angelika VETTER

Transforming urban democracy

Angelika Vetter is Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Stuttgart. Professor Vetter’s main research interests are in the comparative study of local politics, local and national political culture and political behaviour. She is the speaker of the German Political Science Association’s Workgroup on Local Politics.  She has given talks on citizen participation and the revitalization of local democracy for a series of public and private institutions in Germany and abroad.