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    Achieving a right to the city in practice: community development and human rights approaches in Dublin’s inner city communities

    Boyle, Mark and Hearne, Rory (2015) Achieving a right to the city in practice: community development and human rights approaches in Dublin’s inner city communities. Working Paper. NIRSA - National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, Maynooth University.

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    The concept of the right to the city is increasingly being drawn upon by international human rights organisations, urban governments, NGOs, and marginalised and excluded communities, amongst others, to promote the right of urban inhabitants to an acceptable standard of living in a sustainable city in which they decide governance and development processes. However, it is increasingly becoming a contested concept between elite international, regional and city governments and NGO institutions defining it in terms of human rights covenants and liberal democracy, and radical theorists and grassroots activists of urban justice drawing on it to critique and challenge neoliberal capitalist urbanism. There is also a growing discussion on the practical political question of how the right to the city is to be achieved in practice. Is it through global movements and charters, government policy or community movements? There is also a necessary (but surprisingly not often asked) question to be investigated which is, where is the evidence of right to the city processes, in practice, altering neoliberal processes of urban development, austerity and exclusion? This working paper provides an overview and analysis of the struggles of case study disadvantaged communities in the Irish cities of Dublin and Limerick against neoliberal regeneration plans and a harsh neoliberal austerity regime implemented in Ireland from 2008 to 2013 which has had devastating effects on their community and neighbourhood projects. The paper outlines the various processes, actions, approaches, strategies, ideas, and polices developed by these communities within their social movement struggles at an individual estate level and at the city-wide scale. In recent years the communities have turned to a rights framework to try and articulate their demands for community oriented regeneration that would provide a decent standard of housing and neighbourhood, with an empowered community engaged in decision making processes, to enable these social housing tenants to remain living with dignity and equality in their local place that was their homes. These struggles are presented as a contribution to the debate in critical urban theory and urban social movement studies on how the right to the city can be achieved in practice. It reveals that the real world practice of community resistance is complicated and sometimes does not fit neatly with radical academics’ and activists’ desires for what movements should be and do. These communities successfully rolled back some neoliberal measures and achieved aspects of the right to the city through the adoption of a multiplicity of political strategies including publicly critical campaigns that involved community development, a human rights framework, collective action, empowerment, media work, political lobbying, and public protest. Interestingly the communities also prioritised on-going engagement with the state to develop practical solutions to their issues. The connection between these communities and their local area reasserted such marginalised, working class, neighbourhoods as a central territory for an alternative urban politics that can achieve social justice. The experience has implications for strategies of achieving the right to the city. For example it highlights the significant challenges faced by communities in engaging in scales beyond their community, in this case in a cross city network to influence national policy. The experience of the campaigns and policies developed by these communities in Dublin’s inner city, therefore, provide important reflections for academic, policy and activist debate on strategies to achieve a right to the city for its most marginalised populations.

    Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
    Keywords: Right to the city; community campaigns; social housing; neoliberal urbanism
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > National Institute for Regional and Spatial analysis, NIRSA
    Item ID: 10940
    Depositing User: Mark Boyle
    Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2019 13:34
    Publisher: NIRSA - National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, Maynooth University
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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