In order to celebrate the end of the year and to wish you all merry Christmas, I summarise what I have done so far, and what has happened in cities and urban studies around me.
2015 has been a productive year in many ways. In our research group, we have finished some projects and started others, and we managed to publish some interesting stuff. In the meanwhile, main Spanish cities have seen the emergence of a ‘democratic revolution’ through the victory in the municipal elections of anti-austerity political platforms claiming for less corruption and an alternative management of cities granting greater redistribution and fight against poverty. furthermore, with catalan elections in autumn and general elections in winter, this has been a pretty political year.
The Innosogo Project: social innovation and governance
In January we started the national project INNOSOGO Innovación Social y Gobernanza, prácticas emergentes para ciudades en transformación (Social innovation and governance, emerging practices for cities in transformation) in which we try to analyse bottom-up practices taking place in Spanish cities and their connection with local administration. Are socially innovative practices against social exclusion collaborating with public administration? What kind of governance models allow for greater or weaker collaboration? What are the results of this different patterns of collaboration? The project compares four cities: Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Zaragoza.
At the end of the year we have analysed the governance models of the four cities and selected the case studies to start extensive fieldwork on January. Synthesis reports will be soon available, and results will be presented in the next ISA Forum in Viena and in the next RC21 Conference in Mexico amongst others.
You can find more information on the project here.
The Innova project: new forms of production in the city
This year we have finished the Innova Project, a coordinated research project in collaboration with other research groups in University of Valencia and University of Lleida. The projecte attempted to analyse new forms of organisation of economic actors within the city, comparing four Spanish cities: Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Valencia. Specifically, we analysed the role of networks of creative workers and its connection with more classic clusters and agglomeration economies’ approaches being developed in cities. The results will be published in different journals and books soon. In the meantime, you can take a look to the summary of the project done by the project coordinator Montserrat Pareja in the final conference of the project together with the other two main researchers of Valencia and Lleida.
A new spring? The ‘democratic revolution’ in Spanish cities
In May 2015 the municipal elections brought new mayors to main Spanish cities, affecting almost all cities studied in Innova and Innosogo projects. In Madrid, Manuela Carmena led a coalition of parties and movements that accessed to the city council with support of the traditional left party PSOE. In Barcelona, the former anti-evictions activitst Ada Colau became mayor through the platform Barcelona en Comú, but in a very fragmented scenario where the vote is highly distributed between seven parties. In Valencia and Zaragoza similar movements reached the city council bringing new proposals for management based on greater transparency and anti-corruption, as well as enforcing redistributive policies to tackle growing povery and social exclusion.
Colau and Carmena during the electoral campaign
The emergence of these new city councils is interesting for both projects: what are the proposals in terms of economic development of these new political parties? How are they connecting with the grassroot movements that propose new measures against social exclusion? To what extent they are new politics and what are their proposals? The new scene brings a complete new research agenda in a context of general austerity.
Catalonia as a network of cities
The third large research project of this year has analysed the trajectory of former mayor of Barcelona and President of Catalonia Pasqual Maragall, whose political project was largely based on promoting the role of municipalities in policy-making. The project, being published next year, has been possible thanks to Fundació Catalunya Europa who awarded me with a prize to do the research.
The former mayor Pasqual Maragall
Conferences and publications
Finally, the year has brought the participation in conferences and the publication of some articles. Here is a short list:
- Participation in a Workshop in the framework of the Expo 2015 in Milan on urban Laboratories already explained here
- Participation in the RC21 Conferece in Urbino with the presentation “Changing models for growth? Governance of large metropolitan regions in Spain” with Fernando Díaz Orueta, Maria Luisa Lourés, and Santiago Eizaguirre based on the research conducted during the Innosogo Project
Publication of articles is always painful. This 2015 I have been able to publish some works already waiting to appear:
- An article on Environment and Planning C: Making polycentrism: governance innovation in smalland medium-sized cities in the West Midlands and Barcelona metropolitan regions.
- For the next year a spanish version of this article will be published in Revista de Estudios Regionales
- An article with Marisol García and Santiago Eizaguirre in City, Culture and Society: Social innovation and creativity in cities: A socially inclusive governance approach in two peripheral spaces of Barcelona.
Unfortunately many other articles and chapters are waiting to be published next year.
Well, and that’s 2015 for changing cities and its author. I wish you all a merry Christmas and a productive and fruitful 2016, which for sure will be more urban than ever. As usual, a video to celebrate the holidays