Urban transgressions and informalities in the “Global North”

The greater part of the international debate on urban “transgressions” – and, more generally, on urban informality – related to realms of the planning, construction and governance of the built environment deals with cities in the so-called Global South. However, urban transgressions are not absent in the “Global North”, for instance, in many southern and eastern European countries, such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Croatia. Despite their long-standing existence and their quantitative relevance, the features and causes of this kind on informality in these areas are still poorly explored. Nevertheless, a very articulated phenomenology of these urban transgressions seems to emerge (from illegal occupation of public housing to ‘slum-style’ shacks, from secondary residence by the sea to luxury villas by members of organised crime groups). Their ultimate causal factors are varied as well (e.g. necessity, cultural factors, institutional incentives and real estate speculation).

Similarly, also a great variety of policy responses is observable: from processes of planning formalization to national amnesties throughout hard-nosed government interventions aimed at re-establishing the law repressing informal behaviors.

The session aims to reason on these phenomena with a triple focus on their features, causes and policy responses. A diverse range of potential contributions is welcome, such as:

  • qualitative, critical explorations of specific, local case-studies;
  • national and cross-national comparative overviews;
  • quantitative, geo-spatial accounts and analyses;
  • critical discussions of causal factors and policy responses.

The focus will be mainly, but not exclusively, on urban transgression as related to the realms of the planning, construction and governance of the built environment.


Francesco Chiodelli, Gran Sasso Science Institute francesco.chiodelli@gssi.it

Alessandro Coppola, Gran Sasso Science Institute and Polytechnic University of Milan alessandro.coppola@gssi.it