V ESA RN37 Midterm Conference in Berlin (5-7th October 2022) – Registration is now open

After the selection of abstract proposals, we are glad to communicate that registration for our V Midterm Conference “Seeing Like a City / Seeing the City Through” has been opened.
The conference will take place at the Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Research of the Humboldt University Berlin from the 5thto the 7th of October 2022. 
The registration can be done at the following link: https://hu.berlin/RN37conference_registration

The deadline for paying early bird fees (both for authors and for panel chairs) is July 20.

Please contact the RN37 Organizing Committee (rn37.esa@gmail.com) or the Local Organizing Team (esa-rn37-gsz@hu-berlin.de) for any info or questions.

We look forward to meeting you in Berlin!

V ESA RN37 Midterm Conference in Berlin (5-7th October 2022) – Call for Abstracts

After the selection of panel proposals, we are glad to launch the call for paper abstracts for our V Midterm Conference “Seeing Like a City / Seeing the City Through”. The conference will take place at the Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Research of the Humboldt University Berlin 5th to the 7th of October 2022. The deadline for submission of abstract proposals is May 6.
Information on the 27 panels and further details on the submission process can be found in the call for papers.
Abstracts may be submitted here
For any info or question, please contact:
RN37 Organizing Committee (rn37.esa@gmail.com)
Local Organizing Team (esa-rn37-gsz@hu-berlin.de)
We look forward to meeting you in Berlin!

V ESA RN37 Midterm Conference in Berlin (5-7th October 2022) – Call for panel proposals

We are delighted to announce that our V Midterm Conference entitled “Seeing Like a City/Seeing the City Through” will take place at the Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Research of the Humboldt University Berlin from the 5th to the 7th of October 2022. 

Talja Blokland is the local organizer, and we really thank her and her colleagues for their proposal and their effort.

As we did in the IV Midterm Conference, we will first open a call for panel proposals. After that, a call for individual abstracts for the accepted panels will be opened.

We attach the CALL FOR PANEL PROPOSALS (1st STAGE) with all the details.

We look forward your proposals by February 10th February 20th, 2022 at the address rn37.esa@gmail.com, where you can also contact us for any question.

On the 7th of March we will open the call for individual abstracts (2st stage).

We look forward to meeting you in Berlin and we wish you again a Happy New Year!

ESA Elections 2021

Elections for PresidencyExecutive CommitteeChair of RN CouncilChair of NA Council

Regular members in good standing will be able to elect the 14 members of the Executive Committee and the President of ESA. Candidates should be supported by members of the Executive Committee, of Research Networks, of National Associations or by individual members of ESA. These elections will take place through electronic voting.

Calendar of the Elections:

  • 19 August – 2 Sept: electronic voting
  • 3 September: General Assembly

Representatives of the Research Networks and the National Associations will be able to elect the Chairperson of their corresponding Council. These elections will take place through electronic voting during the bi-annual meeting of the Council of RN and the Council of NA at the 15th ESA Conference on August 31st. 


ESA Conference 2021 – SP08: “Covid-19 in the City: Building Positive Futures” 02/Sep/2021 | 03:30pm – 05:00pm

With Raquel Rolnik and Antonio Maturo, organised by RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness and RN37 Urban Sociology.

The Covid-19 pandemic is unprcedented in the last century and has been acutely felt in many cities all over the world. Covid-19 is showing us in a dramatic way  our vulnerability as human beings and the importance of our urban contexts, in particular its schisms for mental and physical health, challenging our sense of responsibility towards matters that transcend the private sphere, towards our neighbours and other people and the affairs and values of city, community and society.

Whenever a trend and explanation for the spread of the infection emerges, Covid-19 challenges it: shifting our knowledge of the most affected ages, genders, ethnic groups, countries and territories. However, it seems clear that the virus is not “democratic” at all: the inequalities of our cities are exacerbated by the pandemic, and many people disadvantaged by lack of resources and skills are unable to defend themselves.

The pandemic has brought an increase in social and political awareness of the need for change in European cities where people’s care and their health can be – but presently often are not – at the centre of its design.  Thinking about health and care means placing the sustainability of life, urban mobility, spatial segregation, public space and people’s daily experiences at the centre of political decisions.

While the pandemic has reinforced urban and health inequalities, it also provides a window of opportunity for us as sociologists to rethink issues concerning this matter. RN16 and RN37 would like to invite colleagues to discuss these topics, with a view to building alternative futures.


Raquel Rolnik | University of São Paulo, Brazil

Cities and Covid-19: Utopias and Dystopias

The current pandemic has intensified and made the preexisting crisis clear cut and explicit: the biopolitics grounded on growingly extractivist logics and in the destruction and promotion of death have taken hold of all existing relationships between bodies and territories. With it, also preceding forms of control and surveillance, such as the confinement imposed in many cities and countries and other shapes of the restructuring of the surplus extraction process through cyber capitalism, which had also been redesigning our cities, have also been intensified: private, controlled and securitized systems of territorial governance; as well as a mainly cybernetic economy based on automation and bigdata, and on the collection and extraction of people’s personal data and on the tracking of all their movements. This scenario represents the dystopia that is presented to us as our future. However, in an opposite vein, the pandemic has also catalyzed the rise of a myriad of forms of self-organization and mobilization geared towards securing people’s survival in contexts where a scarcity of resources emerges. These forms take a variety of means – legal, illegal, supra-legal – and operate in and through community and collective takeover, solidarity networks, and spaces of invention and improvisation. The post-pandemic situation is thus one of struggle between the previous dystopia and this utopia of the political imagination to invent another model for our cities, one not based on a centralized model attached to the extractivist, exploitative and consumer logic, but rather on an alternative model envisioning change grounded on the primacy of defending life.

Short bio
Raquel Rolnik is a professor of Urban Planning at the University of São Paulo. She was planning director at the São Paulo Municipal Planning Secretariat (1989-92) and National Secretary of Urban Programmes of the Brazilian Ministry of Cities (2003–2007). From 2008 to 2014, she held the mandate of UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing. She was an urbanism columnist for Rádio CBN-SP, Band News FM and Rádio Nacional, and for the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, and she currently keeps a column on Radio USP, UOL and on her personal webpage. She has recently authored Urban Warfare: Housing under the Empire of Finance (Verso, 2019).


Antonio Maturo | Università di Bologna, Italy

From Sociographical Disruption to Medicalized Futures: Integrating Covid-19 into Everyday Life in the City

“Biographical disruption” is a key concept in medical sociology. This expression refers to the rupture in the fabric of everyday life and the upheaval in cognitive categories after the diagnosis of a chronic disease. It is not reductive to state that what we have experienced due to Covid-19 has been, and still is, a biographical disruption at a large scale: a “sociographical disruption”. During the major lockdown in the early months of the pandemic, our homes were a refuge but also a prison, a place of rest but also of work. Outside the home, a surreal silence reigned, broken only by ambulance sirens. We thus had to reinvent a domestic life marked by hybridization, ambiguity, and the uncanny (Unheimlichkeit). We also experienced a peculiar form of medicalization of everyday life characterized by new objects; new hygienic practices; and new forms of interaction in the city.
Will all these new normalities fade away thanks to the vaccine? Will we then go back to our old, pre-Covid normalcy? Probably not. The virus has proven our vulnerability. The events of 9/11 gave rise to huge changes in the security systems of airports and other crowded places; Covid-19 will give rise, on a much larger scale, to changes in every part of our lives. Life in the cities will be characterized by molecular surveillance (Endopticon) and several risk-reduction practices. Some of these practices will be presented and discussed.

Short bio
Antonio Maturo is a medical sociologist and Professor at Bologna University. His latest books are Digital Health and the Gamification of Life, Emerald, 2018 (with Veronica Moretti) and Good Pharma, Palgrave, 2015 (with Donald Light) and among his publications on Covid: Unhome Sweet Home: The Construction of New Normalities in Italy during COVID-19, in Lupton D., Willis K. (eds) The Coronavirus Crisis: Social Perspectives, Routledge (with Veronica Moretti). He has edited two volumes of the journal Salute e Società: The Medicalisation of Life, 2009 (with Peter Conrad) and Medicine of Emotions and Cognitions, 2012 (with Kristin Barker). At Bologna University, Antonio is the Chair of the PhD Programme in Sociology and responsible for the Unit for the Horizon2020 “Oncorelief” Project. Moreover, he has taught Medical Sociology for five years at Brown University, USA. Antonio is proud to have been one of first Erasmus students, at the Katholieke University of Leuven, in the distant 1989/1990.



RN37 Board elections

This year we are electing a new RN37 board, following the ESA RN Guideline (RN Guidelines | European Sociological Association (europeansociology.org), the ESA By-laws and the new RN37 election statutes. The call for nominations and/or self-nominations is open from  June 1st  until June 30th. Participation in the election requires active ESA and RN37 membership. 

The next steps will be:

  • July 1-15: Nominated candidates accept or decline their nominations and submit their biographical notes.
  • July 16-30/August 1-23: Preparation of ballots and electronic voting procedures.
  • From August 24thElections start and remain open until 24 hours before the RN Business Meeting.
  • ESA Conference, RN Business Meeting: Second vote (if needed in case of ties); results are conveyed to the members present; results are shared via email and social media with remaining RN members and beyond.

If you have any questions, please contact us (rn37.esa@gmail.com).

Keynote speeches and speakers

Does the city still exist? Is urban sociology alive? Provocations regarding our discipline

Giampaolo Nuvolati (University of Milan Bicocca)

Wednesday, 27th January, 15h30 (CET) 


Scenes transform cities 

Terry Clark (University of Chicago

Thursday, 28th, 16h15 (CET) 


Migrants within city-making processes: Looking through the lens of disempowered cities

Ayse Caglar (University of Vienna

Friday, 29th, 17h (CET) 

ESA 2021 Conference RN37 Joint Sessions

JS_RN01_RN37: Urban Ageing: Towards an enhanced spatial perspective

Chairs: Lucie Galčanová Batista, Anna Urbaniak (RN01) and Marta Smagacz-Poziemska (RN37)

The organizers welcome individual and team contributions which combine  sociology of ageing, social gerontology, and urban sociology perspectives.
Many authors now point to the contemporary struggles over the representation of older age within and beyond the realm of the social sciences. Later life and older people are represented on one hand as a quiescent minority bearing multiple disadvantages within a social status of limited agency and increasing dependency, experiencing a loss of autonomy and so on. On the other hand, older people are also seen as a source of new political, economic, and cultural ‘grey’ power, as an influential actor in contemporary societies, shaping the contours of new policies and welfare regimes. These debates reflect the diversity of the experiences of ageing selves and the pluralities of life courses as well as of the institutional, political, and social changes with which the personal and individual experience is inseparably interlinked. These struggles lead also to the reformulation of the concepts of agency, autonomy, or power themselves and to the calling for their even more reflexive application in academic accounts of the human experience in later life.
We would like to particularly invite papers and sessions that will discuss ageing-related issues within (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • spatial aspects of ageing
  • age-friendly cities and communities
  • urban ageing
  • urban ageing policies


JS_RN15_RN37: Transforming cities in a global transforming world

Chairs: Marco Caselli (RN15) and Victoria Gómez (RN37)

Globalization is an actual global phenomenon involving all inhabitants and all places of the earth, even though in a number of different ways, as we have witnessed since the outbreak of the current pandemic. In this scenario, cities are places where globalization manifests itself with particular intensity; and cities, in turn, contribute decisively to shaping globalization processes. For this reason, cities are a privileged observation point for globalization and in particular for global / local dialectics.

So, we welcome contributions which analyse, on one side, the impact of globalization processes on cities’ life and structure:  e.g., what is the impact of global crisis like economic ones or the current Covid pandemic, environmental changes, migration flows and re-structuring of political international institutions on urban realms, in terms of social practices and formal/political responses?  On the other side, we also welcome papers which investigate the role of cities in shaping and directing globalization processes.


JS_RN27_RN37: Urban homelessness in Southern Europe: new problems and new challenges in times of Covid-19

Chairs: Teresa Consoli, Inês Vieira (RN27) and Gabriele Manella (RN37)

Southern European cities, in the present pandemic and in previous crisis contexts, have seen the aggravation of the number of cases and conditions in which homeless people live. The lockdown particularly affected people without home and diminished the response from related social services (shelters, food support, social work). The higher vulnerability of homeless people in this situation constitutes a big challenge for Southern European cities, and in many of them important emergency responses arose not only from public entities (like pandemic-related temporary accommodation) but also from community-level groups and self-organized solidarity networks (relieving, for example, food needs that stopped being addressed by usual social service providers). On the other hand, already existing “punitive” political approaches to homelessness combined with stricter/blinder readings of “COVID-safe” street avoidance led to homeless people being blamed and fined for staying in the street, and previous highly precarious life conditions (particularly in concentrated spaces and in situations of socioeconomic and citizenship deprivation) quickly gave rise to new highly critical conditions of homelessness (as in the case of the thousands of people that were in Lesbos’ Moria refugee camp before the devastating fires). Beyond the current context, for many decades homelessness situations have received mainly charity-assisting responses, lacking a deeper public answer that was replaced by (often unregulated) private social services. In this session we welcome presentations that put these issues into perspective, offering insights on policies and approaches focusing on the different dimensions of urban homelessness in Southern Europe, namely in the aftermath of the pandemic.


JS_RN35_RN37: Patterns and paradoxes of forced mobility and confinement in urban space

Chairs: Margit Fauser (RN35) and Patrícia Pereira (RN37)

In this joint session, co-organized by RN35 (Sociology of Migration) and RN37 (Urban Sociology) we propose to debate diverse patterns of both forced mobility and forced immobility and confinement, two realities that coexist in many urban spaces in the present time. This joint reality puts the dichotomy of (forced) mobility and (intended) spatial fixity into question, creating paradoxes in empirical and theoretical terms.
Forced mobility in urban spaces can be related to refuge seeking, from war or other situations, but it can also occur within the urban space: displacement from one’s permanent or temporary housing, to search for shelter, food, security, or for means of subsistence. While such movements will result from choices within constraint contexts others are rather due to external pressures and this distinction is often difficult to make. In addition, the current CoVID 19 pandemic caused hardship for many urban populations and enhanced social inequalities, creating even more occasions of forced displacement as well as immobilization. The weeks or months of confinement imposed by many governments in reaction to the pandemics were and are being experienced differently by people in uneven social conditions. Key questions for this session are: how do those who live in dwellings with precarious conditions experience the confinement? What does this situation mean for those who lost their jobs and can no longer provide for their families? And how does the pandemic situation shape the urban lives of those who are forced to continue being mobile, taking daily health risks? We invite contributions that tackle these and related questions and advance our sociological understanding of the paradoxical situations of forced mobility and confinement.

ESA 2021 Conference Call for Papers and Abstract Submission


ESA 2021 Conference – RN 37 Call for Papers

Sociological Knowledges for Alternative Urban Futures

Our urbanizing world faces challenges rooted in contemporary visions of unlimited growth and unlimited use of natural resources. People living in metropolitan areas, cities and towns in all continents are going through difficult times. The increasing concerns for social, economic, and political futures of societies, together with worsening climate change, and the current unprecedented pandemic have put urban areas into a particularly vulnerable situation. We take the theme of this ESA Conference as an opportunity to discuss the role of research in urban sociology at addressing these issues. In view of sustainable prospects for cities, how can urban research contribute to rethinking multifaceted and emerging inequalities, shifts in economies, cultures and policies affecting the sociospatial change, urban practices and well-being of people? The ESA Research Network 37 Urban Sociology aims to continue the work developed at the previous ESA Conferences and Midterm Conferences, by stimulating the cross-disciplinary debate on urban life, urban spaces and urban dynamics. At the 2021 ESA Conference in Barcelona, we are interested in receiving proposals focusing on empirical data, but also specifically on the theoretical and methodological aspects of research, with a special focus on papers proposing innovative approaches. Reaffirming the words of the general theme of the conference, we intend to think and practice together new ways of overcoming the complex social, and particularly urban, challenges of our time.

Joint Sessions

JS_RN01_RN37: “Urban Ageing: Towards an enhanced spatial perspective” (Joint session with RN01 Ageing in Europe)

JS_RN15_RN37: “Transforming cities in a global transforming world” (Joint session with RN15 Global, transnational and cosmopolitan sociology)

JS_RN27_RN37: “Urban homelessness in Southern Europe: new problems and new challenges in times of Covid-19” (Joint session with RN27 Regional Network Southern European Societies)

JS_RN35_RN37: “Patterns and paradoxes of forced mobility and confinement in urban space” (Joint session with RN35 Sociology of Migration)

IV Midterm Conference (Bologna, 2021)

Urban Theory and Urban Praxis: Past, Present and Possible Futures

27-29 January 2021, Online-Conference

European Sociological Association (ESA) – Research Network 37: Urban Sociology

Università di Bologna, Dipartimento di Sociologia e Diritto dell’Economia

We are delighted to announce that our IV midterm conference entitled “Urban Theory and Urban Praxis: Past, Present and Possible Futures” will be held ONLINE, hosted by Department of Sociology and Business Law, University of Bologna. The leader of the local organizing group is our colleague from the board:  Gabriele Manella.

Conference information

Follow this link to register for the conference
You have to be a member of ESA to participate at the conference via zoom.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the uncertainty and risks surrounding the current (and likely future) global health situation, the organizing committee has made the (hard) decision to postpone the conference from its initial date (September 2-4, 2020) to a new date (JANUARY 27-29, 2021) AND move the conference entirely to an ONLINE FORMAT.

We are working on the details and logistics of this new format, but the latest information available points to the conference being hosted by the University of Bologna (Italy) and held online using a web-conferencing platform (e.g. Zoom or Microsoft Teams). We will provide updates timely to all the (prospective) participants, as soon as we have further news.

Keynote Speakers

Ayse Caglar: Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna and Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna. Profile: https://ksa.univie.ac.at/institut/mitarbeiterinnen/professorinnen/caglar-ayse/

Giampaolo Nuvolati: Professor of Sociology of Environment and Territory, Vice-Rector for Public Engagement and Director of the Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milan-Bicocca. Also, Scientific Coordinator of the Territory Section of Italian Association of Sociology (AIS). Profile: https://www.unimib.it/giampaolo-nuvolati

Terry N. Clark: Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. President of ISA RC03 Community, International Coordinator of the Fiscal Austerity and Urban Innovation Project. Profile: https://sociology.uchicago.edu/directory/terry-n-clark

New RN 37 book: Inequality and uncertainty: current challenges for cities

The book “Inequality and uncertainty: current challenges for cities” published by Palgrave Macmillan is available online. This is the second volume presented by the Research Network 37— Urban Sociology of the European Sociological Association. This monograph originated at the conference “Inequalities and Uncertainty: Current Challenges for Cities” which took place in Madrid in June 2018.

Over 150 urban researchers had the opportunity to hear and discuss inspiring key lectures and presentations based on both theoretical reflection and empirical research. We considered one more time that the findings should be presented to the public and in this way take part of a broader discussion on cities. Congratulations to the authors of the chapters: Martina Löw, M. Victoria Gómez, Susanne Frank, Begoña Aramayona, Kaan Kubilay Aşar, Marta Klekotko, Rosa Branco, Sónia Alves, Talja Blokland, Vojin Šerbedžija, Rui F. Carvalho, Inês Vieira, João Pedro Silva Nunes, Iraide Fernadez, Cristina Lavia, Noel Manzano, María Castrillo, Ángel Ramón Zapata-Moya, Cristina Mateos-Mora, Clemente J. Navarro-Yáñez, Fronika de Wit and Renata Putkowska-Smoter. Many thanks to the editors for their huge effort: Maria Victoria Gómez, Laura Guarino, Sebastian Kurtenbach, Patricia Pereira, Marta Smagacz-Poziemska and Juan Jose Villalón.