Cities and Communities

Our publishing on key issues around urbanisation - including housing, inadequate and overburdened services, pollution, overcrowded or inaccessible public transport - addresses many of the challenges posed in the UN Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.

We acknowledge that, with Asia and Africa set to have the largest and fastest increase in urbanisation by 2050, the Global South is a critical area for study accompanying and informing work on the Global North. 

The Urban Policy, Planning and the Built Environment series looks in particular at the contested nature of government intervention in the urban land and housing market, and how urban governance, planning and design processes respond to increasing social complexity, socio-spatial diversity and the goal of democratic renewal. 

Bristol University Press and Policy Press are signed up to the UN SDG Publishers Compact. In Cities and communities, we aim to address the following goal: 

Cities and Communities

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In 2017, the Swedish parliament committed to making the country fossil-free by 2045, prompting an exploration of experiences and perceptions of transition in three cities hosting carbon-intensive industries – steel, cement and petrochemicals, which currently top the list of Sweden’s industrial emitters. From 2019 to 2024, a Swedish–UK research team employed conventional qualitative methods to gather insights from various stakeholders, including industry, municipal actors, and residents, supplemented by arts-based research methods for co-creating data on affective-emotional life in transition towns. This article argues that arts-based research serves as a valuable tool for accounting for and understanding affective-emotional life in frontline transition towns. The arts-based research (ABR) challenges prevailing technocratic and rational frameworks, aligning with ecofeminist Val Plumwood’s call to address the ‘ecological crisis of reason’ that serves to inhibit achieving sustainable futures. The primary value of this article lies in its contribution to the development and refinement of ABR within the context of just transition studies that I argue can help add citizen perspectives and consideration of affective-emotional life to the just transition discourse.

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This chapter looks at advanced community work practice, defined as community work activities within wider approaches to resolving the sociopolitical complexities of communities scarred by long-term division, hostility, conflict and oppression. The chapter draws on the experiences of people involved in peacebuilding in Northern Ireland and in anti-discriminatory community cohesion activities. The chapter invites White community workers to begin to decolonise their practice and consider the privileges they enjoy due to being white in comparison to people of colour.

The chapter also looks at the role of community work within community economic development and in particular the development and support of different forms of social enterprise. Lastly, it introduces some contemporary economic concepts, such as the foundational economy, which are potentially sympathetic and complementary to community work.

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The various chapters in this book have explored the development and consolidation of the concept and practice of creating age-friendly cities and communities. There seems little doubt that a substantial movement has now emerged (albeit principally across the Global North), with the World Health Organization Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities claiming a membership of around 1,500 by 2024. Yet, as also highlighted by various contributors, the context for this work has been challenging to say the least.

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How can we design, develop and adapt urban environments to better meet the needs of an increasingly diverse ageing population?

This edited collection develops an exciting new approach to understanding the potential and challenges of creating ‘age-friendly’ communities in the context of urban change. Drawing together insights from leading voices across a range of disciplines, the book stresses the pressing need to better understand and attend to the inequalities that shape the experience of ageing in place in urban environments. The book combines a focus on equity and social justice issues with considerations of diversity and co-production to foster a better quality of urban life. Exploring a range of age-friendly community projects and interventions, it shows that despite structural obstacles, meaningful social change can be achieved at a local level.

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This chapter examines experiences of precarity among diverse groups of older people who are facing various forms of discrimination and injustices. It starts by outlining experiences of risk and insecurity in later life as defined by the concept of ‘precarity’. The analysis then explores the extent of precarity facing three contrasting groups of older people in urban areas: the Chinese community in the UK; older refugees and asylum seekers; and older people living in areas undergoing gentrification. Through an examination of the relevant research literature for each group, the specific insecurities created by contrasting life course trajectories are illustrated, focusing on three markers of precarity facing older people within these groups: uncertainty; barriers to accessing appropriate services; and financial exclusion. The chapter concludes by highlighting how emancipatory methods, such as co-production and creative methodologies embedded in a precarity perspective, can amplify the voices and serve the needs of those experiencing forms of economic and social exclusion.

Open access

How can we design, develop and adapt urban environments to better meet the needs of an increasingly diverse ageing population?

This edited collection develops an exciting new approach to understanding the potential and challenges of creating ‘age-friendly’ communities in the context of urban change. Drawing together insights from leading voices across a range of disciplines, the book stresses the pressing need to better understand and attend to the inequalities that shape the experience of ageing in place in urban environments. The book combines a focus on equity and social justice issues with considerations of diversity and co-production to foster a better quality of urban life. Exploring a range of age-friendly community projects and interventions, it shows that despite structural obstacles, meaningful social change can be achieved at a local level.

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This chapter by the late Neil Jameson provides an overview of broad-based organising, or community organising, in the UK, including the origins of the concept that Jameson and Alan Twelvetrees first encountered in the US. The chapter provides an account of the formation and development of Citizens UK and the methodology that individual Citizens groups and organisers employ: from how they identify a campaign to undertake, to how they build alliances around that issue with other organisations and interest groups. Jameson provides several examples of local and national successes that broad-based organisation have achieved. The chapter also explains how learning is at the heart of all that Citizens UK does with an emphasis on praxis and experiential learning.

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This chapter develops a study of the municipality of Chalatenango. The type of local order in Chalatenango is defined as society-led, that is, an order shaped by an ecology of governance in which societal actors play a crucial role as public goods providers and violence regulators. The analysis shows that community organization and translocal dynamics are crucial to explaining violence containment. Local communities have managed to control the levels of lethal violence and deter criminal actors amid a national context characterized by state neglect and chronic violence. Community organization is not territorially bound but extends across transnational networks. Migrants are a source of livelihoods for the local population; they also contribute to providing public goods and participate in local forms of organization. Transnational networks have forged a migration corridor that enables immigration to the United States. In doing this, outmigration has worked as a safety valve that relieves social tensions and reduces grievances. Additionally, community organization informally contributes to the capacity of the local state to perform its functions, thereby shaping cooperative state–society relations.

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This chapter examines the possibilities of applying the Village model in two neighbourhoods with significant levels of economic deprivation in Manchester in the UK. The Village model is a community-based initiative developed in the US which is seen as an innovative approach to addressing complex health and social care needs, but which has rarely been tested in low-income neighbourhoods characterised by high levels of social exclusion among older residents. This chapter reports on the participatory action research project ‘Urban Villages’, which aimed to develop new approaches to applying the Village model. Results offer insights into the use of co-production methods with older people; the role of capacities of individuals, communities and places; and the importance of flexibility, continuity and leadership.

Open access

The book is a thorough exploration of practical aspects of community work and the related practices of social action and social planning. It is primarily for trainee and new community workers. Drawing on some of the best writers and thinkers in community work and community development, including Paulo Freire, Alison Gilchrist, Marilyn Taylor, Saul Alinsky, Jack Rothman, Margaret Ledwith and Gabriel Chanan, the book explores the theories that underpin community work. It sees community development, social action and social planning as the three main approaches for bringing about change in society. At the heart of all of these approaches is the community worker – working alone or as part of a team, and part of wider networks. The book helps the community worker consider their own development and self-care within the wider context of their work, which no doubt invites scrutiny from political figures, funders, managers and the community itself as well as bringing challenges in terms of knowing whether one is making a difference or not. The authors add a plethora of anecdotes and recollections from their own practice to help illustrate specific points and ideas. These also show the range of emotions that are encountered when working in a community.

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