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HomeUrban peripheries of European cities: Social institutions, policies, and territories

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Published on Monday, March 11, 2019


In today’s context, debates and interventions about the urban peripheries of European cities are multiplying. For this reason, the present international conference aims at contributing to the considerations in this field through the analysis of the socio-economic conditions of these territories, with a preference for comparative analyses and case studies presentations referred to the last century or to the present day.



Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore- Milan

6th-7thJune 2019

Initiative presentation

The recent socio-economic crisis and the time and ways needed to overcome it have highlighted the permanence of some problems that had already had a great importance in cities characterized by a big demographic and territorial expansion at the end of the 19thcentury. These problems have mainly affected the urban peripheries of cities and the quality of living in peripheral working-class neighbourhoods and they are strictly linked to social inclusion/exclusion phenomena.

In Western Europe experience, cities have become a great pole of attraction because they have been able to offer chances of improvement on the social ladder. At the same time, however, urban peripheries have had to face decline processes. The losers by the changes, partially benefitting from transformations or looking for better living conditions, moved to these territories. In this way, the idea of citizenship gains dramatic tones in the urban peripheries of the main cities which often become “human peripheries”.

Today these problems are relevant again because of the heavy impoverishment of social policies and the subsequent reshaping of the welfaresystem. The more or less decreaseof public protections in the different countries has deeply influenced the geography of inequality.

This process moreover has brought to light again a social discomfort which was thought to be overcome and which constitutes an important challenge for the survival of civil coexistence.

Moving from the analysis of the concept of “urban periphery”, the conference aims to start a reflection over the relationship between socio-economic development and the processes meant to build citizenship, mainly focusing on the answers that social institutions have been able, and are able, to give.

The conference aims to compare the experience of Milan with that of other Italian and European cities. Presentations will deal with the transformations happened in these areas and with the ways of living there, focusing in particular on the variety of contexts and on the specific problems of the several local realities. Attention will also be paid to the so-called “informal answers” to the problems of living in the urban peripheries.

The organizers aim to combine historical considerations with that from other disciplines such as geography and sociology. The objective is a methodological and content interaction as regards the theme of urban development in an ever-changing context, with its positive and negative aspects. The conference will be organized in three different thematic sessions.

Session 1: Local Institutions and Urban Peripheriesin the 20thCentury

The first session will focus on the activities of national and local institutions. Interventions by historians but also by those who study economic and social history are welcome. The attention should be placed on the choices and on the financial resources made available by local authorities to help and/or to manage the economic and social development of the city.

Particularly interesting are the initiatives aimed to solve or to control housing distress: providing the neighbourhoods with services, including educational and welfare; promoting processes of social inclusion; preventing forms of deviance or situations of exclusion. Among the objectives of the conference, there is also the study of the local implementation of national laws on urban peripheries. Examples in Italy are the plans of redevelopment of some cities at the beginning of 20thcentury, the initiatives of urban planning during the fascist period, the results obtained by Piano Ina-Casa during the Fifties also as regards the activation of services of social assistance by the recipients of the houses.

Session 2:Social players and Integration Processes in the Urban Peripheriesduring the 20thCentury

The second session will deal with the actions undertaken by social institutions to study the problem and to protect disadvantaged social classes. Interventions by scholars in economic and social history and by historians are welcome. The researches will focus on the reports, the analyses, the claims as well as the projects, the initiatives by the civil society, both autonomous or as an answer to the requests of public administrations. Such answers refer to the challenges of living in the urban peripheries: houses, transport, services, assistance, paths and means of integration. Associations, unions, political organizations, religious organizations, local churches, and all participation and self-organization forms are considered to be social institutions.

Session 3: Contemporary Urban Peripheries

The third session will focus on contemporary urban peripheries with a special outlook on housing policies and the redevelopment of the most deprivedneighbourhoods. Indeed, the housing issue has renewed attention because of the long economic crisis of the last decade and the great impoverishment of public policies aimed at this sector as a consequence of the choices of welfare restructuring. These dynamics have had a deep impact on the geography of social disparities, amplified by an increase in unemployment and by a growing number of migrants. Besides, they have given emphasis to a housing issue that had never been actually solved, with major effects on the working-class and urban peripheries. The session aims to welcome contributions by scholars in social sciences and territorial studies, which will highlight some of the initiatives undertaken in European cities to face these issues, even in terms of collaboration between the private and the public sectors.


Authors are invited to submit their proposals by filling in the attached form. Proposals must be sent to the following email address: dip.storiaeconomia@unicatt.it. This conference is part of a wider research project whose results will be published later.


  • Paper submission: 1stMarch 2019

  • Notification of acceptance: 20thMarch 2019


Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano

Working languages

Italian, English, French and Spanish (PowerPoint presentations in English)

Organizing Committee

  • Claudio Besana,
  • Andrea Maria Locatelli,
  • Nicola Martinelli,
  • Paolo Molinari

Scientific Committee

Claudio Besana (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), Maria Bocci (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), Edoardo Bressan (Università degli Studi di Macerata), Aldo Carera (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), Kim Christaens (KU Leuven), Dino Gavinelli (Università degli Studi di Milano), Andrea Maria Locatelli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), Nicola Martinelli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), Stefano Magagnoli (Università degli Studi di Parma), Paolo Molinari (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), Flora Pagetti (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), Dominique Rivière (Université Paris Diderot), Valerio Varini (Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca)



  • Milan, Italian Republic


  • Friday, March 01, 2019


  • urban, periphery, city, institution, policy, territory

Information source

  • Ilaria Suffia
    courriel : ilaria [dot] suffia [at] unicatt [dot] it


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Urban peripheries of European cities: Social institutions, policies, and territories », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, March 11, 2019, https://calenda.org/579270

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