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Creating encounters – Strategies and approaches in social neighbourhood development
Client:vhw – Federal Association for Housing and Urban Development e.V.
Time frame:12/2018 – 03/2021

Urban societies are becoming increasingly diverse, but also socially unequal. An increasing fragmentation and polarisation of urban development is observed, which challenges the social cohesion and integration capacity of the city and society. Rising prices and scarcity in urban housing markets are driving processes of gentrification, displacement and social segregation in urban subspaces and neighbourhoods. Thus in many neighbourhoods high social dynamics and conflict constellations arise, that lead to an intensification and consolidation of residential social segregation in most of the cities. We also observe a strong return to the local and the desire for nearby social relationships, in which many people are increasingly interested in and committed to "their" neighbourhood. However, in socially diverse and mixed neighbourhoods it is questionable whether spatial proximity of people from different social situations and ethnic-cultural backgrounds actually leads to social interactions and thus social cohesion.

Therefore, research is needed covering the question of how coexistence can be positively shaped in mixed neighbourhoods and which prerequisites are necessary that can be created by politics, planning, civil society and economic actors.

The aim of the study is to describe and systematise previous encounter approaches in social neighbourhood development, to evaluate them with regard to their effects on social cohesion and the stabilisation of neighbourhoods, and also to identify needs for action and approaches for optimising and further developing such encounter-promoting concepts and measures. In addition to the presentation and analysis of good examples of encounter promotion, the limitations of such approaches must also be critically examined and the thus conducted empirical research placed in the context of the existing and sometimes controversial scientific debate.

To this end, various research methods are to be combined in relation to specific occasions and subjects. In particular, the focus will be on the following:

(1) Secondary analyses (specialist literature, documents, internet, data)

(2) Expert interviews and discussions (focus groups, workshops)

(3) Interviews, inspections and participatory observation in case study areas

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