special issue

Special Issue: Promoting Social Justice and Equity in Shrinking Cities

Articles from our current Special Issue, Promoting Social Justice and Equity in Shrinking Cities, are available for download now!


By Robert Mark Silverman

Shrinking cities are a global phenomenon, 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, and urban governance. There is 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 challenge 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. This special issue reframes discourse on shrinking cities, placing an emphasis on social justice and equity. Articles that critically examine urban policy and governance in shrinking cities across the globe are examined. Within this framework, challenges shrinking cities confront in relation to community organizing, affordable housing, urban revitalization, abandonment, environmental justice, and public schools are scrutinized.

Table of Contents

1. Rethinking shrinking cities: Peripheral dual cities have arrived, by Robert Mark Silverman

2. Green growth strategies in a shrinking city: Tackling urban revitalization through environmental justice in Kitakyushu City, Japan, by Fernando Ortiz-Moya

3. Shrinkage and housing inequality: Policy responses to population decline and class change, by Myrte S. Hoekstra, Cody Hochstenbach, Marco A. Bontje & Sako Musterd

4. Planning with justice in mind in a shrinking Baltimore, by Jeremy Németh, Justin B. Hollander, Eliza D. Whiteman & Michael P. Johnson

5. St. Louis’s “urban prairie”: Vacant land and the potential for revitalization, by Christopher G. Prener, Taylor Harris Braswell & Daniel J. Monti

6. “We’re forgotten”: The shaping of place attachment and collective action in Detroit’s 48217 neighborhood, by Lisa Berglund

7. “There’s money to be made in community”: Real estate developers, community organizing, and profit-making in a shrinking city, by Philip Garboden & Christine Jang-Trettien

8. Just revitalization in shrinking and shrunken cities? Observations on gentrification from New Orleans and Cincinnati, by Renia Ehrenfeucht & Marla Nelson

9. Managing shrinkage by “right-sizing” schools: The case of school closures in Philadelphia, by Ariel H. Bierbaum

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