Re-emerging Civic Urbanism: The Evolving State–Civil Society Relations in Community Building in Seoul

With Su Kim
Emerging Civic Urbanisms in Asia: Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, and Taipei beyond Developmental Urbanization, pp. 196-94
Im Sik, Cho, Blaž Križnik, Jeffrey Hou (eds.)
Amsterdam University Press | Amsterdam | 2022 | ISBN 9789463728546

State and markets drove urban development in South Korea for decades, giving little voice to citizens. Recently, citizens have become increasingly engaged in shaping their living environment. While the enabling role of the state in expanding citizen participation is well acknowledged, the importance of community movements has been overlooked. The chapter explores community movements in Seoul and their relations with the state to better understand their contribution to the recent surge of civic urbanism in the city. Comparison of neighbourhood community building in Seoul shows that civic urbanism, while marginalized in the past, has re-emerged as an integral part of urban governance. The chapter also suggests that the growing institutionalization of civic urbanism can weaken its transformative potential to build inclusive and resilient neighbourhoods and cities.

Source: doi.org/10.5117/9789463728546.

Beyond Construction Site, beyond informality?

With Aidan Cerar
Beyond small gardens: Beyond Construction Site community garden, pp. 72-79
Urška Jurman, Polonca Lovšin (eds.)
KUD Obrat | Ljubljana | 2021 | ISBN 978-961-95545-0-0

Beyond Construction Site community garden has been active for more that a decade. Located in Ljubljana city centre, it is well known to the public. As a successful case of urban gardening, food supply, community building and temporary land-use management, it has attracted considerable media coverage and experts’ attention. Less attention, however, has been placed on its importance for citizen participation in the city. The article discusses Beyond Construction Site community graden as a case of community building and citizen participation that can help building partnerships between residents, neighbourhood communities, civil society organisations and city government, and in consequence contribute to democratic neighbourhood management and sustainable urban development in Ljubljana. The article argues that the City of Ljubljana has so far failed to take this opportunity and expand citizen participation beyond Beyond Construction Site to urban gardening and community practices in the city.

Emerging Civic Urbanisms in Asia: Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, and Taipei beyond Developmental Urbanization

Featured

With Cho Im Sik and Jeffrey Hou (eds.)
Amsterdam University Press | Amsterdam | 2022 | ISBN 9789463728546

Emerging Civic Urbanisms in AsiaIn parts of Asia, citizens are increasingly involved in shaping their neighbourhoods and cities, representing a significant departure from earlier state-led or market-driven urban development. These emerging civic urbanisms are a result of an evolving relationship between the state and civil society. The contributions in this volume provide critical insights into how the changing state–civil society relationship affects the recent surge of civic urbanism in Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, and Taipei, and the authors present eighteen cases of grassroots activism and resistance, collaboration and placemaking, neighbourhood community building, and self-organization and commoning in these cities. Exploring how citizen participation and state–civil society partnerships contribute to more resilient and participatory neighbourhoods and cities, the authors use the concept of civic urbanisms not only as a conceptual framework to understand the ongoing social and urban change but as an aspirational model of urban governance for cities in Asia and beyond.

Source: doi.org/10.5117/9789463728546.

Resisting redevelopment: Protests in aspiring global cities

Governance, 34(4), pp. 1287-1289
Willey | Hoboken | 2021 | ISSN 1468-0491

Resisting Redevelopment: Protests in Aspiring Global Cities, Eleonora Pasotti, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2020. 404 pp.

Castells emphasised that “only if we are able to understand how people create cities might we be able to create cities for people.” Pasotti’s original and wide-ranging study works to explain how and why grassroots around the world resist urban redevelopment to challenge established politics, build alternative futures, and create the cities they desire. It is an essential reading for anyone interested in the city and the grassroots.

Source: doi.org/10.1111/gove.12641.

Between the state and citizens: Changing governance of intermediary organisations for inclusive and sustainable urban regeneration in Seoul

With Kim Kon and Krystallia Kamvasinou
Land Use Policy, 105
Elsevier | Amsterdam | 2021 | ISSN 0264-8377

Cities across East Asia once experienced rapid economic growth and urban development under a strong interventionist state. The recent economic slowdown and political changes have pressured them to find alternatives to the previous state-led or market-driven urban development. New forms of participatory governance have been devised to mobilise citizen participation in decision-making. Citizen participation, however, is not simply about direct interactions between the state and citizens. It is also guided and facilitated by intermediary organisations that are state- or self-funded bodies working between the state and citizens. Seoul in South Korea is a case in point. Over the past decade, Seoul Metropolitan Government has institutionalised intermediary organisations to expand citizen participation in diverse areas of urban life. In urban development, a more inclusive approach has been put forward through new partnerships between government, intermediary organisations, and citizens. In this article, a case study of such partnership is critically examined. Urban regeneration in the Changsin-Sungin Area shows two meaningful changes in the governance of the intermediary organisation. The first change occurred when the intermediary organisation recruited residents as staff members and helped them to create a new local cooperative. The second change happened when the local cooperative took over the role of the intermediary organisation. Analysis of these changes revealed that intermediaries have a contradictory role in urban regeneration. On the one hand, the intermediary intervention has expanded citizen participation and improved consistently the engagement of the community of practice. On the other hand, intermediary intervention has served to instrumentalise citizen participation and constrain the growth of an autonomous community of practice while helping the state to retain control over urban regeneration. In this sense, the intermediary-led participation contains seeds of yet-to-be realised potential, albeit with the current flaws, for more inclusive and sustainable urban regeneration, which this study recognises as an integral part of emerging post-developmental urbanisation in South Korea.

Source: doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2021.105433.

Social mobilisation in localities and urban change in South Korea: The evolution of the Geumho-Haengdang-Hawangsimni community movement in Seoul

Asian Studies, 9(1), pp. 317-343
Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2021 | ISSN 2232-5131

South Korea experienced rapid economic and urban growth in the past that was driven by an interventionist state and speculative markets, and citizens were largely excluded from decision making. Urban change also used to be characterized by the large-scale demolition of poor neighbourhoods and forced evictions of the residents. As a result, different forms of social mobilization emerged in localities, aiming to protect the interests of the residents and local communities, and claim their collective right to the city. The article examines the evolution of the Geumho-Haengdang-Hawangsimni community movement in Seoul as a case of social mobilization in localities. The qualitative case study is based on a longitudinal analysis of causes for its emergence, aims, organization and practice of the community movement to better understand its importance for urban change in South Korea. The results of the study show that the community movement strengthened community building and contributed to urban change at different levels. They also reveal the contradictory relation between the state and community movements, which must maintain their financial, organizational and political autonomy while collaborating with the state to achieve their aims. In doing so, the Geumho-Haengdang-Hawangsimni community movement has successfully maintained its autonomy, for which it can be considered a good example of autonomous and sustainable community building in cities.

Source: doi.org/10.4312/as.2021.9.1.317-343.

From commodities to community engagement: Localities and urban development in Seoul, Korea

With Kim Su
Exporting Urban Korea? Reconsidering the Korean Urban Development Experience, pp. 81-100
Park Se Hoon, Shin Hyun Bang, Kang Hyun Soo (eds.)
Routledge | London | 2021 | ISBN 978-036-74-9840-5

Exporting Urban Korea?Markets used to be the major drive behind the transformation of localities in Korea. The state facilitated the commodification of localities through property-led urban redevelopment, which resulted in the demolition of deprived residential areas, displacement of the residents, heightened social conflicts, and destruction of social relationship networks. At the same time, localities were sites of grassroots struggles that challenged the state and struggled against the commodification of localities. Recently, the state recognized the negative consequences of urban redevelopment and started to promote state-led urban regeneration to improve the living environment and restore communal life in the cities. This chapter examines the changing relations between the state, property markets and community and their role in the transformation of localities and urban development in Seoul. The comparison of Songhak Maeul and Seowon Maeul shows that the state involvement had a significant impact on the transformation of localities. While the role of state is important, the chapter also argues that the significance of grassroots struggles in the transformation of localities should not be overlooked. Recognizing localities as sites of community engagement could contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of urban development and international development cooperation in Korea, as their success has often been attributed to the state and property markets without much consideration of the state–community relationship in building sustainable cities.

Source: doi.org/10.4324/9781003047599.

Sharing Seoul: Appropriating alleys as communal space through localized sharing practices

With Cho Im Sik
Built Environment, 46(1), pp. 99-114
Alexandrine Press | Oxon | 2020 | ISSN 0263-7960

Sharing practices are an important part of urban life. This article examines the appropriation of alleys as communal space to understand how sharing practices are embedded in localities, how communal space is constituted and maintained, and how this sustains communal life. In this way, the article aims to understand the spatial dimension of sharing practices, and the role of communal space in strengthening social relationship networks and urban sustainability. Seowon Maeul and Samdeok Maeul in Seoul are compared in terms of their urban regeneration approaches, community engagement in planning, street improvement, and the consequences that the transformation had on the appropriation of alleys as communal space. The research findings show that community engagement in planning is as important as the provision of public space if streets are to be appropriated as communal space. Community engagement has changed residents’ perception and use of alleys as a shared resource in the neighbourhood by improving their capacity to act collectively and collaborate with other stakeholders in addressing problems and opportunities in cities.

Source: doi.org/10.2148/benv.46.1.99

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.