Call for Papers: JUA Special Issue on Promoting Social Justice and Equity in Shrinking Cities

Special Issue: Promoting Social Justice and Equity in Shrinking Cities

Guest Editor: Robert Mark Silverman

Submission Deadlines:

Abstracts – December 19, 2016

Full Manuscripts – May 15, 2017

There is an expanding body of scholarship focusing on shrinking cities. The phenomenon is global, with notable examples in Europe, North America, Asia, and other parts of the world. Past research has examined shrinking cities in reference to spatial patterns, demographic shifts, deindustrialization, governance, and urban policy. There is also growing literature focused on the theoretical underpinnings of shrinking cities which questions the salience of existing urban growth paradigms. A common, but underdeveloped, thread in the literature on shrinking cities involves the challenges of promoting social justice and equity. Paradoxically, there is a tendency for society’s most vulnerable groups to be concentrated in shrinking cities, while many policies adopted to promote revitalization in these places fail to address the pressing needs of the poor, aging, and dispossessed. Instead, efforts to revitalize shrinking cities mirror societal trends toward increased social and class polarization that have come to characterize urbanization in the neoliberal era.

The goal of this special issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs (JUA), is to reframe the discussion of shrinking cities, placing an emphasis on the analysis of policies to promote social justice and equity. The special issue will include a mix of manuscripts that appeal to the JUA’s growing global readership. Submissions that critically examine urban policy and governance in shrinking cities with a particular focus on approaches to urban revitalization that embrace redistributive justice are sought. Within this framework, empirical and theoretical papers are welcome that focus on challenges shrinking cities face related to:

  • affordable housing
  • education
  • social welfare policy
  • public safety and policing
  • environment and public health
  • neighborhood revitalization
  • community organizing and empowerment
  • race and ethnic relations

To be considered for publication in this special issue, abstracts (150 words) should be submitted to by December 19, 2016. Include a proposed title and contact information for the corresponding author with the abstract. Manuscripts invited for submission are due by May 15, 2017. All manuscripts invited for submission will go through the regular journal review process. Please follow the JUA Author Guidelines:


Call for Participation: Urban Network Research

THE FUTURE OF URBAN NETWORK RESEARCH, September 18 – 20, 2017 at Ghent University (Belgium)

References to ‘urban networks’ in academic books and articles have grown dramatically since the 1950s, and research on the topic of urban networks now extends across many social and natural science disciplines (e.g. geography, sociology, engineering, physics) and over many scales of analysis from the local formation of social networks among neighbours in cities, to the regional formation of inter-city transportation networks, to the global formation of transnational urban-economic networks. This rapid growth in the size, scope, and scale of urban network research has left the area invigorated, but without a clear agenda for future work.

The goal of the 3-day symposium on “The Future of Urban Network Research,” to be hosted at Ghent University (Belgium) on September 18-20, 2017, is to take stock of the current state of research on urban networks, share new methods and data, develop an agenda for moving urban network research forward, and facilitate the formation of collaborative teams to do so. We are now accepting applications to participate from all scholars whose work is urban-focused and includes a network component, as well as those whose work is network science-focused and examines cities or urban contexts. Scholars from all disciplines are welcome to apply. We especially encourage applications from early-career scholars, scholars from under-represented groups, and scholars from developing countries. We envisage honouring about 30-35 applications, and will pursue a mix of attendants in terms of focus, approaches, background, and career stage.

Rather than the more traditional approach to symposia where attendants mainly present their research, we will seek innovative ways to exchange, learn and cooperate. In particular, the format of the symposium will facilitate frame-switching between urban scholars using network analysis and network scientists focusing on cities. Different important research foci will be supported by the presence of international experts in the field, including Aura Reggiani (Bologna), Marc Barthélémy (CEA – Paris), Jurgen Pfeffer (Munich) and David O’Sullivan (UC-Berkeley). With support from the Urban Studies Foundation, Ghent University, and Michigan State University, we are able to offer 4 nights of accommodation and meals during the symposium. In addition, a limited number of travel awards will be available for early-career participants. Participation in the symposium will not only provide opportunities to interact with leading urban network scholars, learn about new analysis methods, and shape the next stage of research on urban networks, but we also expect the symposium to lead to opportunities to publish in one or more books or journal special issues.

Interested scholars should send a single file containing a current CV and a 2-page statement of urban network research interests to and Applications to participate are due no later than December 1, 2016 and invitations to participate will be announced by January 15, 2017, after which more details about format and participation will be provided. Early-career scholars (PhD researchers or post-docs with <5 years of post-doc experience) who would like to apply for a travel bursary are requested to indicate this in their application.


Ben Derudder, Ghent University

Zachary Neal, Michigan State University

Renaud Lambiotte, University of Namur

JUA Virtual Issue Available: Immigration, Ethnicity, and Race in the City

Immigration, ethnicity, and race continue to leave a major imprint on the culture, politics, and economy of cities and their suburbs. Rapid sociodemographic change—which especially impacts urban regions—has once again thrust immigration, ethnicity, and race to the forefront of policy and politics throughout North America and Europe. The articles in this virtual issue explore cutting-edge research on the resiliency of immigrants and ethnic and racial groups, who despite their considerable challenges and struggles, continue to shape and reshape urban and suburban landscapes within cities across the West.

The following, previously published JUA articles are included in this virtual issue and can be accessed without a subscription for a limited time.

Intercultural Gardens: The Use of Space by Migrants and the Practice of Respect
Claire Moulin-Doos

The Impact of Ethnic Concentration on Prejudice: The Role of Cultural and Socioeconomic Differences Among Ethnic Neighborhood Residents
Esther Havekes, Marcel Coenders, Karien Dekker, Tanja Van Der Lippe

Geographies of Whiteness and Wealth: White, Middle Class Discourses on Segregation and Social Mix in Flanders, Belgium
Nick Schuermans, Bruno Meeus, Pascal De Decker

Metropolitan Secession and the Space of Color-Blind Racism in Atlanta
Michan Andrew Connor

The Economic Integration of Immigrants and Regional Resilience
T. William Lester, Mai Thi Nguyen

Ethnicity in an Immigrant Gateway City: The Asian Condition in Houston
Anthony Knapp and Igor Vojnovic

Ethnic segregation and xenophobic party preference: Exploring the influence of the presence of visible minorities on local electoral support for the Sweden Democrats
Per Strömblad and Bo Malmberg

Call for Papers: JUA Special Issue on Refugees and the City

By 2030 more than 60% of the world population is projected to live in urban areas. The urbanized world of the future promises to be more diverse but also more unequal both in terms of population distribution as well as the distribution of resources and opportunities.  In addition to the rural-to-urban migration that is shaping the spatial distribution of cities, political upheavals, armed conflicts and climate change are adding a new stream of migrants to cities as they try to escape the danger and deprivations of home communities. Some cities welcome newcomers and see them as potential resources for future development. Others see them as a threat and try to limit their access to city services and opportunities.

A special issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs will deal with challenges and opportunities created by the “refugee crisis.” We are calling for papers that address city government responses to refugee presence as well as the responses by other actors such as, business, civic, ethnic, and religious leaders and organizations, including social service agencies, neighborhood groups and ordinary citizens. Also, we are looking for papers that address issues about how the arrival of refugees affects the education, economy, and culture and consumption of cities. If you are interested in submitting to this special issue, please contact Gordana Rabrenovic at or Nihad Bunar at

Deadline March 31, 2017

WANTED: Book Reviewers

The Journal of Urban Affairs is looking to add to our outstanding pool of book reviewers. We are particularly interested in adding more young scholars. If you are interested in reviewing a book for the journal, please contact the JUA Book Review Editor, David Varady, at In your email, discuss the types or topics of books you would be interested in reviewing, and include a copy of your CV. We sincerely appreciate all of our past, current and future reviewers!

Photo Credit: Missmarettaphotography (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Do I Still Think Detroit is Dying?

By Peter Eisinger

Wandering through a museum exhibit some years ago on art from the cradle of civilization, I came upon a map of the ancient Middle East with the names of scores of cities that no longer exist, and I was suddenly struck that the world is indeed full of sites of once vibrant cities that died. Thinking about the phenomenon of urban death, it became clear that there are multiple causes—wartime destruction, desertification or jungle encroachment, natural disasters, and so on—but that the common factor in urban death, theoretically, is that for one reason or another the city is no longer able to fulfill its essential urban functions. I wondered if cities in a modern society like the United States could die, that is, if there came a point where they were no longer doing the things that cities do that make them cities. Detroit seemed like a good place to begin an exploration of that possibility.

Elsewhere I posit three fundamental urban functions, each so crucial to the sustainability of a city that the failure of any one of them may set a city on the path to death.1 These include governance (the management and financing of common public responsibilities), an economic function that I call the maintenance of the marketplace (the fostering of employment, investment, and trade), and cultural production and preservation. In “Is Detroit Dead?” I subject the city to an examination akin to that which a doctor conducts on an ailing patient and conclude that the city is no longer fulfilling either its governance or its economic functions and thus appears to be dying.

As that article was in the works and in the few years since publication, downtown Detroit (approximately 5 percent of the land area within the city’s boundaries and 5 percent of the total population) has experienced a $9 billion building boom of mostly repurposed and revitalized commercial property, 16,000 new jobs, and some 3000 new or renovated housing units. City boosters point to this as a sign of the city’s resurgence. Yes, but…. I would suggest that such a judgment is premature.

Detroit is still largely a city in despair, particularly for much of its black population. Little of the downtown activity has had discernible spillover benefits for the vast neighborhoods beyond the downtown. Population continues to decline (though the rate of loss slowed in the last year or two); the school system is in a perpetual state of grave crisis; poverty remains higher in Detroit than in any other big city in the U.S., with the rate for African Americans more than three times that for whites. Furthermore, the rate of concentrated poverty is higher in Detroit than in any other large metro area, and Detroit is the second most racially segregated city in the country. The median per capita income even in the apparently prosperous downtown is less than half the national average.

The city has steadily relinquished its governmental functions, greatly diminishing the scope of municipal capacity. Partly this a function of the formal reallocation of various functions—street lighting, social welfare programs, the convention center, water and sewer, the crown jewel of the public park system and so on– to other levels of government (special authorities, Wayne County, the state of Michigan). But the reduction of municipal capacity is also the product of the virtual abdication of development functions to the private sector, and in particular to just a few individuals, unaccountable to local government or the city’s citizens. Detroit is no longer a fully self-governing city within the context of American local government expectations and possibilities.

The city is also still falling short as a magnet of economic opportunity, one of the most central aspects of the so-called vital marketplace urban functions. There is a limited array of economic activities, most of which are not accessible to people with little education.  No other big city in the U.S. has so few foreign born immigrants. Although some college-educated young people have moved to the city in recent years—artists, entrepreneurs, tech specialists—the city is not a destination for small town domestic migrants nor high school graduates seeking work. Unemployment is still more than two and half times the national rate.

So is Detroit dead? Not yet, but I still think it is hovering on the verge.  There is a core with an aura of vibrancy—a Whole Foods grocery opened in the center a couple of years ago and is often touted as evidence of resurgence–that belies its vulnerability. But much of the rest of the city continues to be a dead zone, still with abandoned houses, empty fields, long-shuttered factories, and a public school system that has lost more than two-thirds of its students since 2002. Detroit still seems to me to be the American way of urban death.

Peter Eisinger is Professor Emeritus at the Milano School of Management and Urban Policy at the New School in New York City.

The original article, “Is Detroit Dead?” was published in Volume 36, Issue 1 (2014) of JUA, and is included in the May 2016 Virtual Issue on Global Urban Change. It can be accessed without a subscription for a limited time.

1. “Theorizing Urban Death,” in Robert Scott and Stephen Kosslyn, eds., Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Interdisciplinary, Searchable, and Linkable Resource. 2015: 1–9..

Does Social Mixing Work? A JUA Blog Review of Integrating the Inner City

By David Varady

Robert J. Chaskin and Mark L. Joseph. Integrating the Inner City: The Promise and Perils of Mixed-Income Public Housing Transformation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).

Most previous American public housing research has concentrated either on the history of public housing or on the consequences of demolishing projects and relocating residents. Instead, Robert Chaskin and Mark Joseph focus Integrating the Inner City on how mixed-income public housing reform (HOPE VI) is actually playing out in three communities in Chicago.

Implementing HOPE VI has proven far more difficult to implement than expected. First, development teams at the three sites experienced substantial logistic, legal, and economic obstacles in recruiting low-income renters and middle-income homeowners. Although the CHA issued bold statements about its general screening policy including a work requirement, drug testing, criminal background checks, and credit checks, working groups at the three sites modified these requirements leading to the admission of “borderline” families with social problems. Second, “each of the efforts [to foster self-sufficiency] encountered substantial impediments in application and resident response, and most have fallen short of (often) modest expectations.” (p.123)  Finally there was little social interaction across incomes and tenures. In fact because of the imposition of strict behavioral rules (e.g. with regard to playing loud music on the street and in cars), mixing actually increased racial and class tensions.

I agree with the authors that it is unrealistic to assume that middle income owners can serve as role models for poor renters. I disagree, however, with their assertion that the CHA’s Public Housing Transformation Plan failed because managers imposed overly stringent rules on former public housing residents. If we want the poor to successfully participate in the market economy and to achieve self-sufficiency, I believe that it is reasonable to expect former public housing residents to learn to follow the same types of rules in subsidized mixed-income developments that apply in market-rate low-income rental housing.

The preceding raises the question: can public housing transformation occur without social mixing? Larry Vale says (2015) “Yes,” based on his research on the Commonwealth Development in Boston.  Commonwealth’s success, however, was due to a private management firm’s tight screening and their strict enforcement of behavioral rules, but it is questionable whether the Commonwealth model can be adopted and successfully replicated elsewhere.

Despite my differences with Chaskin and Josephs over their conclusions, I strongly endorse Integrating the Inner City. Six years of fieldwork have produced a stellar product.

A longer version of this book review appears in the Summer 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Planning Association.


Vale, Lawrence. 2015. “Myth #6 Mixed-income redevelopment is the only way to fix failed public housing.” Pp. 139-53 in Public Housing Myths: Perception, Reality and Social Policy, edited by Nicholas Dagen Bloom, Fritz Umbach, and Lawrence Vale. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

David Varady is Professor of Planning in the School of Planning at the University of Cincinnati. He is also Book Review Editor of the Journal of Urban Affairs.