Aiming at Social Cohesion in Cities to Transform Society

New article (August 2018) in Integrating Human Health into Urban and Transport Planning by Mark Nieuwenhuijsen and Haneen Khries (Eds.)

However one defines social cohesion – and several alternatives will be presented in this chapter – it does not characterize contemporary cities. On the contrary, cities are plagued by inequality, while at the same time being at the forefront of economic development. The EU cohesion policy has been instrumental in this divided development. As it directs the structural funds, what the EU means by cohesion has had a profound impact on cities. In the last decades, cohesion has been sought on market conditions, in line with neoliberalism, where the life of the included middle class people has served as a norm to aspire for. This has instead unleashed the potential causes of inequality inherent in the capitalist system and thereby aggravated inequality, most seriously concerning health. Transport and urban planning measures have deepened a community severance between the socially included and the socially excluded by favouring the more profitable transport modes. A social cohesion of cities on current conditions is not a solution because that would aggravate and preserve the problems causing inequalities. Therefore, the causes of inequality should be combated and that should be done in ways where the people affected by the causes are seen as potentials and where these potentials (in particular their experience and knowledge) are taken advantage of. The social cohesion to strive for in cities, thus, is a collective empowerment of people who wants to combat these causes and thereby transform society.

Stigendal, Mikael (2018). Aiming at social cohesion in cites to transform society. In M. Nieuwenhuijsen & H. Khreis (Eds.): Integrating human health into urban and transport planning. Cham: Springer International Publishing

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