Urban Social Policy as Struggle for Urban Global Justice?

Contemporary urban social policy is shaped to various degrees by social activism. This is evident, for example, in the global struggles for drug policy reform and the relative gains which public health approaches to drug use have seen over the past decade. Another example includes urban food justice movements, influential in establishing income- and access-based responses to food insecurity, including comprehensive urban food policies. Some urban social policies are the result of more radical grass-roots activism around issues of housing, welfare reform, education, or LGBTQ rights, others are constructed in response to initiatives promoting liberal-democratic values such as UN Habitat III’s New Urban Agenda. Regardless of motivation, these approaches are the result of long processes of global struggle addressing social justice and human rights. To date however, the majority of academic work separates studies of social policy and urban activism, resulting in siloed and incomplete accounts of both processes, which, we contend, are inextricably linked.

This session seeks to examine the relationships between urban political struggles for social justice and the production of urban social policy, while also paying attention to their increasingly internationalizing context. We welcome abstracts for empirically grounded, conceptually motivated papers from across the globe that examine one or more dimensions of the following:

  • To what extent is social policy advocacy and creation a form of urban activism? How are they linked and how do they interrelate?
  • What are the consequences and effects of these interlinkages both for activism as well as policy creation?
  • What are the socio-spatial effects of increasing internationalization processes of activism and social policy production?
  • How do concepts of social justice created elsewhere translate into local struggles and policy and with what kind of discursive shifts?


Marit Rosol, University of Calgary marit.rosol@ucalgary.ca

Cristina Temenos, University of Manchester cristina.temenos@manchester.ac.uk