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WEBINAR: Coping with urban shrinkage: the role of informal social capital in French medium-sized shrinking cities

Free Public Webinar on Zoom and YouTube
Wednesday, May 29, 2024 @ 9:00 am – 10:30 am CEST

Invited Speaker

Solène le Borgne

PhD candidate in the Department of Geography, Planning and Development Studies
University of Amsterdam

This research addresses current debates on the role of social capital in the context of urban shrinkage, by investigating the specific role of informal social capital. The results are drawn from qualitative studies conducted in two French medium-sized shrinking cities. The findings show that similarly to the institutional and collective forms of social capital analyzed in previous literature, informal social capital is also impacted by the changes affecting urban place in the context of shrinkage, and particularly weakened for elderly residents – especially women – and young professionals. At the same time, it constitutes an efficient resource, that helps residents facing shrinkage-related problems individually rather than addressing shrinkage itself collectively. Finally, the findings highlight the role of specific social actors such as community centres who, by providing institutionalized sources of social capital, foster the creation of informal social capital and allow us to address its unequal distribution and weakening. This emphasizes the need to reconsider current social capital-based planning strategies, from relying mainly on collective initiatives addressing shrinkage, to supporting institutional social actors in the creation of small scale, individual level social ties and interactions.

About the presenter:

I am an urban scholar who combines ethnographic methods and critical theoretical approaches from geography and sociology to explore the everyday politics of urban change.

I study how urban actors’ everyday experience and negotiation of urban change contributes to reproduce, transform, and sometimes challenge unequal sociospatial orders. My PhD research examined the everyday politics of urban shrinkage, including residents’ agentive mitigation of stigma, sensory micro-politics in impoverishing and ethnically diversifying neighbourhoods, the construction and mobilisation of urban symbols, and the role of public actors in recomposing social capital weakened by long-term outmigration.

I was a Marie Sklodowska Curie fellow and PhD candidate in the Department of Geography, Planning and Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where I was part of the Urban Geography research group. Since September 2023, I am based at Université Paris Est Créteil, where I am a Research and Education Fellow and teach courses in general sociology and qualitative research design.

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About Our Webinar Series

This event is part of our regular webinar sessions for social capital researchers including PhD/master students. These sessions include invited presentations from prominent scholars as well as presentations by PhD students and experts in professional practice.

For social capital researchers, these sessions are an opportunity to hear about the latest social capital research and insights from scholars working on the concept. They can be a great way to connect with people, to get advice, discuss ideas or issues, get suggestions for literature to read, or you can just listen.

Are you researching social capital and want to present your research? Click here for more information and to submit a proposal.

Generally, presentations can be 20 to 30 mins. The content of your presentation will depend on your research stage.

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