Social Production of Urban Periphery/ High-rise Suburbia

The discussion of segregation and social exclusion in urban and suburban residential areas is a traditional subject in urban studies. These issues, however, may have a different meaning for the urbanization on the fringes, the new residential areas emerging on the edges of the cities. The characteristics of these areas vary in different regions of the world: in the North America scholars speak of (post)suburbia and edge cities (Garreau 1991), whereas in Western Europe the process of merging urban regions seems to be more significant (Bontje and Burdack 2005). Post-socialist cities of Eastern Europe experience the third path: high-rise suburbia, development-led (Golubchikov and Phelps 2011) dense urbanization of previously rural or buffer zones on the city edges emerges as a response to the high demand for housing and capital flows. These urban fringes are predominantly lower and middle middle-class housing developments. The diversity and complexity of urban peripheries worldwide raise a question whether they become important centers of the urban life production: is it a place for new activism and the formulation of new demands for the right to the city, or is it a zone of increasing deprivation, and reduction of the citizens’ rights?

 This session invites papers addressing emerging urbanization on the city fringes in different regions of the world and focusing on the following questions:

  • What are the social features of the fringe urbanization? What is its role in social class and social space production?
  • How do people’s housing strategies and decisions interact with other actors: policy decisions and developers’ plans?
  • How do the infrastructure and planning characteristics of high-rise suburban housing developments contribute to their social development and/or potential marginalization and segregation?
  • How do these living environments (and their intensive digitization) affect social capital, solidarity, and civic life of the residents?


Anna Zhelnina, CUNY Graduate Center

Oksana Zaporozhets, Higher School of Economics, Moscow