Neoliberalization and urban redevelopment: The impact of public policy on multiple dimensions of spatial inequality

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This paper examines the impact of public policy on different dimensions of spatial inequality. We not only study residential segregation but also housing market access and inequality in terms of neighborhood status. We chart the impact of urban redevelopment policies in two Dutch cities—Amsterdam and Rotterdam—through a unique longitudinal and full-population dataset that enables us to distinguish the contributions of demolition, new construction, and tenure conversion to various dimensions of spatial inequality. We find that policy measures that reduce segregation may reduce access to housing (as happened in Amsterdam) while measures that promote upgrading may exacerbate inequalities between neighborhoods (as happened in Rotterdam). Distinguishing between different kinds of policy measures and dimensions of spatial inequality, we argue, allows for a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of urban redevelopment and better insight into the trade-offs involved in policy decisions.

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Between 2019 and 2021, volunteers of a local Protestant congregation in Amsterdam, professional artists, and (other) local residents organised the interactive exhibit A(t) home in the Staats. In this project, community art and diaconia joined forces using multidisciplinary methods to strengthen relations in the neighbourhood and to discern issues of belonging and lines of division in the changing neighbourhood. The project was situated at the intersection of an “up and coming” neighbourhood and a shrinking congregation. By analysing the exhibit, this article contributes to the development of creative, arts-based research methods in diaconal studies. Within this approach, art is never a mere illustration or a vehicle for reflection but rather a generator of knowledge. The central question is: how can alliances between community art and diaconia contribute to overcoming segregation in urban contexts? This question is informed by the process of gentrification and the search by city churches for ways to engage with urban changes. After the introduction and methodological reflections, the article describes the background and practice of the project, followed by the outcomes of the interactive exhibit. It concludes by answering the central question and mapping theoretical and practical challenges concerning alliances between art and diaconia in urban contexts.
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