Co-production towards just urban transformation – two different ways in Budapest, Hungary and in Sassari, Italy

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Innovative participatory processes, such as co-production is based on the creativity and the inclusion of participants. It is able to transform social relations, and can have significant positive impacts on urban transformations, therefore it is supported by local governments. Although through co-production citizens can have significant impact on decision-making and transformation, on the other hand, scholars argue that state-initiated processes can be the motors of institutionalization of inequalities. The organization and the structure of the space have a crucial dimension on human societies and social relations. Therefore, the interactions between space and society have to be analysed to understand the drivers of social justice and to be able to formulate them into a territorial perspective to tackle them. Taking spatial justice and its theoretical background, our paper offers a critical perspective toward co-production, as deployed in urban planning and policies, by focusing on two cases from different cities. Within the case of Budapest an urban regeneration programme is introduced in the most deprived neighbourhood of the city. Co-production has played an important role of the programme as a proposed way of social inclusion. However, the interviews which were carried out as part of our case study confirms the challenges, as well as the limits that co-production faces when coping with inequalities. At the same time, the interviews highlight how the reinterpretation of co-production is necessary, and how it can contribute to innovative forms of interactions inside of the society and also when dealing with public institutions. The risen awareness concludes in empowerment and more just urban transformations. In the other case we study the programme Crossing Cultures (Intrecciare Culture) in Sassari, Italy, that is a co-productive initiative is aimed to revitalize the historical centre of the city. The neighbourhood suffers from strong abandonment and demarginalization process. The project makes emphasize on social inclusion through the valorisation of social relations among the different cultures which live in the most underprivileged area of Sassari. In the creative sub-programmes such as revitalization of an urban space, cinema nights, photographer laboratory, story-telling creativity and sentiments regarding the space become crucial. As participant observers, it was visibly how the different soft laboratories generated special bond between participants and the urban space, moreover, gave a sense of self-expression that can contribute to spatial justice. However, on the other hand, the sustainability of the results is questionable due to the lack of well-functioning networks among various organizations in place. The paper reflects how/if co-production can contribute to spatial justice, to the fair distribution of socially valued resources in different places.
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3: Smartness and development. Al-Souq: innovating for performance and management
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PhD Student
University of Sassari
Politecnico di Bari

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