CALL FOR PAPERS: Special Issue on “Cities, Networks, & Urban Policy”

Special Issue of Journal of Urban Affairs on “Cities, Networks, & Urban Policy”

The Journal of Urban Affairs invites article submissions for a special issue on “Cities, Networks, & Urban Policy,” guest edited by Zachary Neal (Michigan State University) and Ben Derudder (Universiteit Gent). References to ‘urban networks’ in scientific books and articles have grown exponentially over the past years. Research on the topic now extends across many social and natural science disciplines and over many scales of analysis from the intra-urban formation of social networks among neighbours, to the regional formation of transportation networks between cities, to the formation of transnational economic networks between global cities. Papers in this special issue will explore the ways that research on cities and networks has, or can, inform urban policy (broadly construed).

We welcome empirical, theoretical, and review papers. Additionally, we welcome papers adopting quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches. However, all papers submitted for this special issue should (a) foreground the role of networks (broadly construed) in cities and (b) should conclude with or discuss implications for urban policy (also broadly construed).

Interested authors should submit their manuscript first to the guest editors by email ( & Following an initial review to confirm the manuscript meets the aims of the special issue, instructions for formal submission to the journal will be provided. Initial submissions must be received by 15 March 2018.

Questions about the journal, special issue, or suitability of a particular manuscript or idea can be directed to Zachary Neal at


Symposium, Journal of Urban Affairs
Laura A. Reese, Editor
Global Urban Studies Program
Michigan State University

Public policies and other issues related to animals in the city have not been well explored; yet, issues of animal welfare have long been tied to municipal politics.  Historically, regulations designed to protect the urban populace and property from animals have existed as long as humans and animals have lived in close proximity in cities and, in the US, have been determined to be legitimate exercises of police powers on the parts of state and local governments.  Surveys have indicated that mayors ranked animal-related issues as the most common complaint to their offices.  The issue of companion animals in the city illustrates the complexity of conflicting public effort to cope with pets as objects of affection, economic value, respect, or abuse.  However, contemporary cities also include non-companion animals such live-stock and chickens as part of urban farming, wild animals whose shrinking habitats have caused them to part of the urban environment, stray and feral animals as the result of economic distress, and hybrids such as “coydogs” resulting from interactions between companion animals and wild animals.

This symposium will include papers that focus on the environmental, health, safety, ethical, and cultural implications of animals in the city and the human-animals interactions that result.  Global comparisons would be particularly welcome.  While certainly not exhaustive some potential topics are listed below:

  • What are the sources of stray and feral dogs and cats in urban areas? How can those sources be managed (etiology-human behavior change, economic conditions) through policy instead of managing the symptoms?
  • What are the health and regulatory implications of urban animal husbandry in dense urban areas?
  • How do urban animal issues intersect with cultural and sociological views and practices? Does such interaction help or hinder the development and implementation of animal welfare policy?
  • What are the potential health implications of the connections between urban environmental degradation (standing polluted water, lead paint and asbestos in buildings) and the health of animals and humans in cities?
  • What are the relationships between the human/animal bond, human and animal abuse, and other forms of criminality such as dog fighting? Is stray dog aggression a sentinel of a violent human community? How are different forms of animal cruelty in urban areas connected to other interpersonal problems?
  • What do model urban animal welfare ordinances look like and where have they been applied?
  • What types of models are there for cooperative service production related to animal welfare and animal control between NGOs and the public sector? How can awareness and engagement of community and stakeholders be raised?
  • What are the interactions between roaming companion animals and other urban wildlife?

Authors are encouraged to submit article proposals to Laura A. Reese ( by December 1, 2017.  These will be reviewed and specific papers selected by December 31, 2017.  The final articles will be due by June 30, 2018.  Please send proposals along with contact information and a curriculum vita via email to:

Laura A. Reese, Director, Global Urban Studies Program, Michigan State University,

Reflections on Neighborhoods and Collective Efficacy

By Charlie Collins

Transforming social cohesion into informal social control: Deconstructing collective efficacy and the moderating role of neighborhood racial homogeneity, by Charles R. Collins, Zachary P. Neal, and Jennifer Watling Neal, was published in Volume 39, Issue 3 of the Journal of Urban Affairs and is currently available for free access for a limited time.

As I reflect on this paper, which examines the neighborhood role in collective efficacy factors, I can’t help but place myself in the various neighborhoods I’ve lived in throughout my life and think about those neighborhood dynamics that influenced me. The neighborhood as a space brings with it social, cultural, and economic influences that can have huge effects on the residents within them. The schools, institutions, organizations, and even demographic make-up of a neighborhood can have profound effects on individual and collective outcomes. Quality social, economic, and cultural institutions may positively impact residents; poor institutions may have negative impacts.

In the neighborhood that possibly made the largest effect on my adolescent development – the Lanksershim neighborhood of San Bernardino, California, located about 60 miles east of Los Angeles – I remember a rich tapestry of cultures, faiths, and ethnicities. My closest friends were first generation Cambodian, Mexican, Laotian, and Guatemalan. We ran around the neighborhood as a cohesive group along with my African-American and White friends. Convenience stores, restaurants, and laundromats, owned and operated by Samoans and Pilipino families lined our streets. The current demographics still reflect my lived experience.

This diversity also brought with it tribal conflict. In the 1990’s, off-shoots of L.A.’s Bloods and Crips engaged in battle. More recently, it’s been the Norteños and Sereños. Beyond gang wars, racial tensions always seemed palpable – even for my diverse and cohesive group of friends. A store owner accosting a customer, an angry stare between adolescents, or a school-yard fight was a common occurrence between people of different racial or ethnic backgrounds.

The richness of this cultural melting pot was often undercut by the desperate poverty we experienced. The Norton Air Force Base, an economic powerhouse for San Bernardino, was about 6 blocks from my home. When it shutdown,  homes became ignored and dilapidated, broken cars sat on cinder blocks in yards, and stray cats moved about unmolested. Our schools were financially broke. Liquor stores out-numbered grocery stores. A lack of educational after-school programs left adolescents up to their own devices. To add insult to injury, the 10’ fence encompassing my high school created the ominous feeling of a prison yard.

It is through the lens of my personal lived experiences in neighborhoods such as Lankership that I conduct my research and contribute to my science. I strive to see communities that are both diverse and cohesive. Unfortunately, the scientific literature on this question is not in my favor. Thus far, much of the urban science shows that racial diversity often undercuts neighborhood outcomes, such as social capital and collective efficacy. Even this paper, which seeks to understand how racial/ethnic homogeneity influences the relationship between two collective efficacy factors – social cohesion and informal social control, does not give evidence on my behalf. These factors are important because they provide residents the collective capacity to address neighborhood needs, such as crime, for example.

In this paper, my co-authors and I found three important results that may inform neighborhood structure and processes, particularly regarding neighborhood racial make-up. First, we found that within more racially homogeneous neighborhoods, residents tend to report higher levels of informal social control. Meaning, in these neighborhoods, residents are more likely to indicate that their neighbors will intervene on behalf of the neighborhood, such as breaking up a fight between two adolescents, for example. Second, we found that when residents report greater levels of social cohesion they also report elevated levels of informal social control regardless of neighborhood diversity. In other words, when residents perceive their neighbors as willing to help each other,  they also report greater informal social control. Third we found that within racially homogeneous (i.e. less diverse) neighborhoods, the relationship between social cohesion and informal social control was reduced. Meaning, that racially homogeneous neighborhoods tend to have a stronger relationship between social cohesion and informal social control. In these neighborhoods, residents tend to enact greater informal social control mechanisms if they have strong social bonds (i.e. social cohesion) with their neighbors.

Given the rich diversity that I experienced as an adolescent growing up in San Bernardino, these results have important implications. Our results indicate that although racial diversity may have a negative effect on the relationship between social cohesion and informal social control, the power between social cohesion and informal social control is undeniable. I’d argue that for growing and maintaining the extent to which residents feel a push toward contributing to the social order of the neighborhood, building social bonds are important – those similar bonds that I experienced, regardless of race or country or origin.

As an academic, I’ve now taken these very personal and real stories and abstracted them into numbers, data, and statistics, which have no direct impact or meaning for those families still struggling to make ends meet in San Bernardino. I am physically far removed from that time and space now, but I am cognitively tied to it for eternity. It will always impact my research and the way I go about asking scientific questions. My only hope is that one day my body of research will be pooled with those doing similar work so that collectively, I can have a real and immediate impact on places like San Bernardino.

Charlie Collins is an Assistant Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at University of Washington at Bothell.

Book Review Preview: Space and Pluralism

By Anne B. Shlay

Stefano Moroni and David Weberman (eds.), Space and Pluralism: Can Contemporary Cities be Places of Tolerance? (New York, NY: Central European University Press, 2016).

Spaces and Pluralism is a tough read that speaks to issues that have plagued humanity for centuries but have intensified in recent years.  It asks “can contemporary cities be places of tolerance?”

The book is a collection of essays, case studies and research articles from many points of view including philosophy, planning, political science, design, geography, social theory, anthropology, and urban studies.  It asks basic and important definitional questions: what is pluralism, what is public and private space, how place is created from space, is tolerance culturally specific, how does private property interfere with tolerance, what can be expected from design and planning, what are human rights for space collectively and individually, and how does space exclude, separate and control particular social groups?

The two major concepts explored are pluralism and tolerance.  This idea of the good is central: not that there is right or wrong or winners and losers but that different perceptions are good whether they are good or bad.  Tolerance entails “mutual tolerance of the other” (p.8).  A pluralist approach to space encompasses the idea that different ideas of what is good exists and that we should accept and tolerate these differences.

Space and Pluralism recognizes that one cannot theorize about tolerance without talking about space.  Race, ethnicity, gender, class and more are grounded in space.  Tolerance and intolerance are spatial.  Human rights are spatial.  How can one even begin to understand human conflict without incorporating space as a key dimension? This focus on space may be the best feature of this book.

Spaces and Pluralism would be a useful addition to graduates courses associated with the fields of urban and global studies.  It will generate debate, frustration and hope over the possibility of tolerance and the role that designers can play in fostering understanding.

The full book review will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs.

Anne B. Shlay
Georgia State University

Geographies of Impact and Readership

By Nick Schuermans, Bruno Meeus & Pascal De Decker

Last year, we were caught by a very pleasant surprise. With “Geographies of whiteness and wealth: White, middle class discourses on segregation and social mix in Flanders, Belgium, we won the 2016 best paper award in the Journal of Urban Affairs. Meanwhile, our paper has also been included in a virtual issue on ‘Immigration, Ethnicity, and Race in the City’, which is available open access on the journal’s website. In this blog post, we want to share some reflections about the impact of our research and the importance of combining academic and non-academic publications.

In the assessment by the award committee (which was made up by scholars working in the U.S. exclusively), we were very happy to read that “while the study was situated within a particular metro region, its insights are particularly far-reaching and relevant across myriad socio-spatial contexts.” As Belgian researchers, we hope that the lack of a paywall and the increased attention for the paper will help it to find an academic readership beyond the confines of our small country. Currently, our article has 12 citations in Google Scholar: six self-citations and six citations by other Belgian scholars. Does this mean that research in Belgium is usually only considered to be relevant by other Belgians? Does the spatial division of academic theorization, as criticized by Jennifer Robinson (2006), stop researchers from other countries to read a case study on the metropolitan area of Ghent as potentially informative for their own research questions and theoretical frameworks? Or should we refrain from generalizing based on such a small sample?

In any case, we do not consider the impact of our research to be limited to the number of citations it attracts or the impact factor of the journal in which it has been published. Elsewhere, we have already indicated that we urge Belgian scholars to publish in peer-reviewed, international journals such as the Journal of Urban Affairs, but that we are also worried that the one-sided focus of funding bodies and hiring committees on such publications might hamper the role that our scholarship plays outside academia (Schuermans et al., 2010). “By asking which civil servants are going to pay to access our articles, by wondering which policy makers will struggle with our academic English and by questioning which public sector employees are going to do the effort to translate our conclusions into policy recommendations,” we wrote in a reply to Ben Derudder (2011), “it becomes clear that we – and the systems designed to evaluate us – have to value more than our bibliographic records in the Web of Science alone” (Meeus et al., 2011, p. 114).

This also explains why the findings we communicated in the Journal of Urban Affairs paper have also been shared in a two page article in a major Flemish newspaper, policy reports for the Housing Department of the Flemish government and a Dutch language book called De Geest van Suburbia (The spirit of suburbia) (Meeus et al., 2014). Obviously, the question remains which impact such newspaper articles, policy reports and academic books in Dutch can have. While we – and many of our colleagues in Belgium – have been criticizing social mix strategies deployed by city councils and regional authorities since the 1980’s, it is clear that alternative policy measures are still in their infancy. Calls to provide social housing as a way to combat the displacement of the poorest of the poor from our inner cities are plainly ignored, for instance. Instead, local city councils emphasize time and time again the need to attract taxpaying inhabitants through urban revitalization projects in order to improve their tax basis and the social cohesion of their city. Research that questions the desirability and feasibility of these social mix strategies  – such as our Journal of Urban Affairs article – keeps on falling on deaf ears.

This is also evident from two research projects we have been asked to undertake since the publication of the Journal of Urban Affairs article. On the one hand, the city of Genk, a former coal mining city, has asked us to conduct a housing pathway analysis of young people and families leaving the city. On the other hand, we have secured a three-year grant from Innoviris, the Brussels institute for Scientific Research, to study the housing trajectories of well-off people leaving the Brussels Capital Region. While the political representatives of these cities fear that suburbanization of higher income groups has a detrimental effect on their social fabric and city treasury, we are concerned that critical studies on segregation, social mix, suburbanization and urban revitalization in Belgian cities are not only ignored by policy makers here in Belgium, but also by scholars who are not familiar with the Belgian context.

As such, we do hope that the attention sparked by the best paper award can convince both local policy makers and international colleagues that “the findings [of our Journal of Urban Affairs paper] are important not only for informing current urban renewal efforts, but also speak to the unique challenges that will emerge as we begin to see more and more mixed-income neighborhoods undergo gentrification,” as the award committee put so nicely. Thank you for that!



Derudder, B. (2011). Some reflections on the ‘problematic’ dominance of ‘Web of Science’ journals in academic human geography. Area, 43(1), 110-112.

Meeus, B., De Decker, P., Claessens, B. (2014). De geest van suburbia. Antwerp: Garant.

Meeus, B., Schuermans, N., De Maesschalck, F. (2011) Is there a world beyond academic geography? A reply to Ben Derudder. Area, 43 (1), 113-114.

Robinson, J. (2006). Ordinary cities: between modernity and development. Milton Park: Routledge.

Schuermans, N., Meeus, B., De Decker, P. (2015) Geographies of whiteness and wealth: White, middle class discourses on segregation and social mix in Flanders, Belgium. Journal of Urban Affairs, 37 (4), 478-495.

Schuermans, N., Meeus, B., De Maesschalck, F. (2010) Is there a world beyond the Web of Science? Publication practices outside the heartland of academic geography. Area, 42 (4), 417-424.

Book Review Preview: Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus

By Benny Carlson

Stefanie Chambers, Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2017).

On November 6, 2016, two days before the U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump branded the Somali community in Minnesota “a disaster”. On February 18, 2017, he pointed to Sweden as a failed immigrant country. These statements make it interesting to highlight the situation for Somali refugee immigrants in the U.S. and Sweden. Now, very timely, a book about Somalis in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, and Columbus, Ohio, written by political scientist Stefanie Chambers of Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, has been published. She has compared the “incorporation” of Somalis in these city environments in a systematic way, using 14 political, economic and social indicators and a rich empirical material, not least interviews with 114 respondents. Her conclusion is that although much remains to be done, the Twin Cities come out on top of Ohio according to most indicators.

If one compares Somalis in Minnesota and Sweden, the former community does not appear as “a disaster”. Over a five-year period (2011-15), employment among Somalia-born in Minnesota (age 16-64) was 62 percent, compared to 26 percent in Sweden. (The figures are going up in Sweden, though; in 2015 they were 31 percent.) Self-employment over the same period was 5.9 percent in Minnesota, 0.7 percent in Sweden. Furthermore, I have myself interviewed several Somali entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities and have been impressed by their patriotism and belief in the American dream. To brand this whole community “a disaster” is apparently counterproductive for the group – it may increase the risk of identity problems and radicalization among young people – as well as for the U.S. in general, where the American dream seems to be fading in segments of the middle and working classes. This branding apparently rests on scanty knowledge. Fortunately, this knowledge gap will to a large extent be filled by Stefanie Chambers.

The full book review will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs.

Benny Carlson
Lund University School of Economics and Management

The Reviews are Coming in on the New JUA!

By Jeanette Eckert

As Editor-in-Chief Igor Vojnovic wrote on the blog last month, 2017 is an exciting year for the Journal of Urban Affairs. A new publisher, new cover art, several planned special issues, and more issues per year are among the changes, and we’re getting great feedback already. But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s Professor Jonathan Davies, a member of the JUA Editorial Board:


We hope everyone is enjoying the new JUA as much as Professor Davies! What do you think so far? Feel free to let us know!


Jeanette Eckert is a doctoral candidate and instructor at Michigan State University and is the Social Media Editor for the Journal of Urban Affairs.