In our research group, we study the socio-political urbanism at the intersection of land use planning, housing policy, and social policy. Land use planning is a public policy that regulates the allocation of land for different uses based on ecological, social, and economic standards. However, these standards are often negotiated, adapted, and readjusted based on national and local dynamics. By taking a new institutionalist approach, we explore the sustainability of care and housing provision in cities as the essential resources for social reproduction from one generation to another and within generations.
Our competences include policy analysis, actor analysis, and comparative qualitative case studies to provide policy relevant academic research while addressing the gaps in the scholarly debates in this highly topical field of social and political urbanism. Our field of expertise cover a broad set of national contexts including Switzerland, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Ghana.
Care is an essential resource to sustain life with an acceptable level of capability, safety, and comfort mentally and physically. Dependence on care changes across lifetime and includes key social functions such as raising children and supporting older adults as well as people with disabilities.
Feminist scholarship has defined a “crisis of care” as the transformation of the society that is less able and less willing to provide the caring labour. There is also a growing “care gap” that is between care needs and resources made available for the provision of care.
The overarching goal of this research agenda is to explore the role of local governance and the spatial organization of care provision in mitigating or exacerbating the care gap. We explore the reorganization of “spaces of care” along with broader social trends such as ageing, degraded care work and gendered division of care labour, and economic trends such as increasing costs for care, strained pension systems, and financialization of care as well as housing.
Having a home is a basic human need and an essential good. Its conditions of access, supply, management, distribution, and ownership structure need to be thought through to avoid conflicts and rivalries between competing uses (e.g., affordable housing or lofts for couples with double income and no kids or office space), which has consequences on its sustainability.
In our research group, we analyse the sustainability of housing from a new institutionalist perspective. The institutional resource regime (IRR) analysis refers to all formal rules in force within a specific area, which are grounded either in public policies, including use and protection policies, or property rights, including property titles, contracts, conventions, etc. These formal rules determine the use and transfer rights of a given resource, such as housing.
We explore these diverse mechanisms between public policy and property rights to analyse the sustainability of the housing resource. Our research on housing policy focuses on issues of social justice, (de)commodification of housing stocks, and power relations among public and private actors in the use and distribution of housing.
Ay, D. “How to plan for care-full densification? Social sustainability of densification where social policy meets land-use planning”, PLPR (International Association on Planning, Law and Property Rights) Annual Conference, Ghent, Belgium, July 2022
Ay, D. and Turker, K.A. (2022). Post-conflict Urban Renewal as an Ethnocratic Regime Practice: Racialized Governance of Redevelopment in Diyarbakir, Turkey. Frontiers in Sustainable Cities, 90.
Ay, D. (2021). Empowering Cities to Make Immigrant Integration Happen. in Migration, Equality, and Racisms edited by Ilke Adam, Nick Schuermans, Florian Trauner, VUB Press.
Ay, D. and Demires Ozkul, B. (2021). The Strange Case of Earthquake Risk Mitigation in Istanbul, City (1-2), 67-87.
Debrunner, G. (2020): «Wir müssen Verdichtung gezielter steuern», In: Mieten + Wohnen, Nr. 4 September 2020, 10-12.
Debrunner, G., T. Hartmann (2020): Strategic use of land policy instruments for affordable housing. Coping with social challenges under scarce land conditions in Swiss cities, 99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.104993
Debrunner, G., A. Hengstermann, J-D. Gerber (2020): Die Wohnungsfrage ist eine Bodenfrage: Bodenpolitische Instrumente zur Sicherstellung des preisgünstigen Wohnraums im Bestand in Schweizer Städten, In: Schönig, B.; Vollmer, L. (Hrsg.), Wohnungsfragen ohne Ende?!, Sammelband Universität Weimar: transcript Verlag 58-76.
Debrunner, G., A. Hengstermann, J-D. Gerber (2020): The Business of Densification. Distribution of Power, Wealth and Inequality in Swiss Policy Making, Town Planning Review, 91(3), 259-281.
This project takes densification as a major intervention to the built environment that reorganizes the public space, private space, and, therefore, the spaces of care. Using the “care gap” as an indicator for social sustainability, we develop the following overarching hypothesis: If densification helps mitigate the care gap, it leads to socially sustainable residential arrangements in urban settlements. We ask how the densification of residents and uses affect the demand and the supply for care provision: What are the institutions, actors, and formal and informal arrangements that determine the relationship between the care gap and densification?
In ResiDENSE, we aim to analyse different local governance mechanisms that support the social acceptance of housing densification through comparative case study analyses. Our research outcomes will provide a detailed answer to the questions how municipalities plan differently for housing densification in the built environment and how they parallelly ensure social sustainability (e.g., housing affordability, access, living quality etc.) of housing development? Parallelly, winners and losers of the new rules of the game (densification) will be identified and the effectiveness and social justice issues related to the densification policies applied will be discussed.
Municipalities can influence the housing market through their actions. However, their actions are tied to appropriate cantonal and national framework conditions and depend on cooperation with housing market players. This research project investigates this local design and handling of housing policy and its contribution to affordable housing for the public.