Urban change in East Asia: A comparison of civic participation in the residential neighbourhood improvement in South Korea and Singapore

With Cho Im Sik and Kim Su
Processes and Relations in East Asia, pp. 139-159
Andrej Bekeš, Jana S. Rošker, Zlatko Šabič (eds.)
University of Ljubljana Press | Ljubljana | 2019 | ISBN 978-961-06-0270-5

East AsiaDue to their successful social and economic development, South Korea and Singapore are known as two of the four Asian Tigers. In the past their industrialization and urbanization were steered by the developmental state, while civil society was largely excluded from decision making. Decades of rapid growth, however, have also contributed to social po- larization and degradation of the residential environment, which are among the major challenges for the cities in both countries. Over the last decade, civil society has become increasingly engaged in addressing these challenges along with the state. For this reason, it is important not only to know the degree of state involvement but also the relationship between the state and civil society if one is to understand the urban changes occurring in East Asia. State involvement and its evolving relationship with civil society are reflected in the provision and improvement of residential neighbourhoods. In this chapter, the authors compare civic participation in the context of residential neighbourhood improvement in South Korea and Singapore. The transformation of Samdeok Maeul in Seoul and Tampines in Singapore shows that the state has successfully involved the residents in the planning and management of neighbourhood improvement. At the same time, civic participation was strongly influenced by the state, which has negatively affected community building, as well as the sustainability of the neighbourhood improvement projects. Civic participation in the residential neighbourhood improvement in Seoul and Singapore in this sense reveals the opportunities, as well as challenges, related to more inclusive and sustainable neighbourhood management and urban governance in East Asia.

Source: doi.org/10.4312/9789610602699

Call for papers: Local transformations in urban Asia (CLOSED)

With Kim Su
Asian Studies, 9(1)
Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2021 | ISSN 2232-5131

The future of Asia seems to largely depend on the effective management of cities and metropolitan regions. Emerging approaches to urban governance in Asia, addressing social, economic and environmental challenges in a more sustainable way, are well acknowledged. Competition and global aspirations of cities in Asia are at the same time considered major drivers of their urban growth. Less attention, however, is placed on the consequences of urban growth on the everyday life in localities. These are not only passive recipients but also as active agents, capable of responding to competition and global aspirations of cities. Moreover, localities are relevant for their growing importance for inclusive urban governance, which aims to foster community development, collaborative economies, grassroots placemaking or expansion of local autonomy. The 2021 special issue of Asian Studies journal, therefore, aims to explore the diverse consequences of urban growth on the transformation of localities in urban Asia by addressing the following key questions:

● How does urban growth affect everyday life in localities across Asia?
● How do localities sustain or resist competition and global aspirations of cities in Asia?
● What is the importance of localities for building just and sustainable cities in Asia?

The special issue aims to bring together contributions from scholars in human geography, urban and regional planning, environmental management, landscape architecture, urban sociology and anthropology, cultural studies or political sciences, which can contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the local transformations in urban Asia. It aims to focus on residential neighbourhoods, traditional commercial areas and markets, streets and alleys or urban parks, for instance, to explore how everyday practices and shared identities, embedded in localities, affect and are affected by the urban change. These localities are seldom part of global financial centres, shopping malls or speculative mega projects but belong to multifaceted civic spaces, where diverse social groups can mingle and coexist.

Next from its focus on a comprehensive understanding of localities, the special issue also wants to engage with a locally informed understanding of the local transformations in urban Asia. Cities in Asia were often studied in relation to and based on the methodological tools and explanatory frameworks, borrowed from the Global North, without challenging their relevance for particular Asian urban contexts. This not only restricts the understanding of cities in Asia but also possibilities to challenge general urban theory. The special issue, therefore, aims to bring together contributions that critically address the local transformation in urban Asia while challenging established methodological tools within Asian urban contexts. Theoretical or empirical contributions are welcome from scholars, researchers, PhD students and other experts, particularly from those using a qualitative research approach.

Previously unpublished original contributions should be submitted online by July 1st, 2020 via the journal’s website. Additional information available here.

Transformation of deprived urban areas and social sustainability: A comparative study of urban regeneration and urban redevelopment in Barcelona and Seoul

Urbani izziv, 29(1), pp. 30-41
Urban Planning institute of the Republic of Slovenia | Ljubljana | 2018 | ISSN 0353-6483

The transformation of deprived urban areas is important for strengthening social sustainability in particular localities, and it is also instrumental in attracting new investments to cities. Speculative urban development, however, often ignores the social importance of localities and considers them mere economic assets that can be stripped of historical, social, and symbolic meaning and turned into easily marketed commodities. This article examines the somewhat contradictory role of the transformation of deprived urban areas in cities. It compares Barcelona and Seoul, two cities with different historical, cultural, and institutional contexts. The 22@ Activity District in Poblenou and Wangsimni New Town are explored as case studies to understand how urban regeneration and urban redevelopment are embedded in a particular locality and what consequences they have on social sustainability. Although the two cases differ in terms of planning approach, stakeholders, and institutional contexts, the findings suggest that the consequences for social sustainability were similar in both. The article argues that declining social cohesion and a lack of citizen participation were a consequence of speculative urban development, in which urban regeneration and urban redevelopment were instrumentalized to attract investments, strengthen economic competitiveness, and improve the city’s global appeal rather than address diverse local challenges.

Source: 10.5379/urbani-izziv-2018-29-01-003