Capitalism: An economic system in which capital (the goods or wealth used to produce other goods for profit) is privately owned and profit is reinvested so as to accumulate capital. Capitalism is grounded in the concept of free enterprise, which argues that government intervention in the economy should be restricted and that a free market, based on supply and demand, will ultimately maximize consumer welfare (Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences).

Casualisation: Process by which employment shifts from a preponderance of full-time and permanent or contract position to higher level of casual positions.

Convergence: Tendency towards growing similarity. Promotes integration of the diverse.

Central and (South) Eastern Europe: Former socialist countries. New accession countries in the ex-Soviet bloc.

Civil society: Set of different actors which constitute the basis of a society and act voluntarily and usually collectively for the interest of the community. It implies a response to the state’s role in regulating social life and represents a new space for social intervention. In some cases, civil society is more institutionalised and inclusive, and in some others, civil society aims to construct a counter hegemonic force.

Creative cities: Concept developed by Charles Landry in the late 1980s, encouraging a culture of creativity in urban planning and solutions to urban problems. It has become a global movement that inspires a new planning paradigm for cities and it is related to the concept of learning cities.

Deregulated labour market: Eliminating or reducing government control on how business is done and moving towards a more free market.

Digital divide: The gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology and those with very limited or no access at all.

Divergence:The opposite of convergence. Tendency towards growing differentiation. Promotes separation of the diverse.

Diversity: those visible or invisible aspects that make people differ from each other. Elements of diversity can be age, gender, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

Dualisation: To  make something dual.

Dualist housing systems: Housing systems that privilege and promote home ownership. They see ownership as a solution for all and thus encourage buying (‘owning’) rather than renting (e.g. subsidies and access to social housing).

Dualist migration policies: Existence of 2 types of the immigration policies, once favouring skilled workers and the other ones penalising non-skilled.

(To) ecologise: To bring nature into urbanisation.

Economic restructuring: Economic reorganisation. It refers to the phenomenon of Western urban areas shifting from a manufacturing to a service sector economic base. For more information, read the definition in Wikipedia.

FEANTSA: The European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless

Financial deregulation: Provision of funds and capital increasingly becoming not so regulated and controlled by the State.

Fordism: A system of mass production (e.g. the assembly line) pioneered by Henry Ford to meet the needs of a mass market. Mass production for mass consumption. For more information, read the definition in Wikipedia.

Formal economy: Economic activities that are both taxed and monitored by a government; and  not included in the government’s Gross National Product (GNP) as opposed to in formal economy.

(To) fragment: Action of breaking, separating, spliting up, dividing… (for the purposes of this blog, also attempting on).

Gentrification: Restoration of run-down urban areas by the middle class (resulting in the displacement of lower-income people). It denotes the socio-cultural changes in an area resulting from wealthier people buying housing property in a less prosperous community.

Globalisation: It describes an ongoing process by which state economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated and interconnected through a global network.

Governance: Way of governing that provides the participation of the whole society. At a local level, it allows more and better coordination and interaction between the city institutions and citizens in decision making processes, and reinforces the role of individuals in social life.

Growth of the State: Tendency of the State to become more and more responsible for the welfare provisions – including housing – which cannot be met by the market.

Heterogeneity: The opposite of homogeneity. Differences in lifestyle, culture, language…

High skilled jobs: Those jobs that require (high) qualifications to be carried out.

Home ownership: Act of having and controlling certain property: a dwelling.

Homelessness: Not a clear and common definition (because no definitive European level statistics yet). But agreement upon the fact that it includes a range of problems:

  • ‘rooflessness’
  • rough-sleeping
  • inadequate housing quality and/or security
  • lack of safe and private personal space (Edgar and Meert, 2006).

Homogeneity: The opposite of heterogeneity. Coincidence in lifestyle, culture, language… Its is a trait of spatial concentrations of poverty and deprivation (large scale social housing and shanty towns).

Housing provision: Housing supply in a particular State.

Housing system: Organisation of housing matters in a particular State.

Identity: The own comprehension of oneself as a separate entity.

Informal economy: Economic activities that are neither taxed nor monitored by a government; and are not included in the government’s Gross National Product (GNP) as opposed to  formal economy.

Integration: Model of governing cohesion and diversity by which all the members of the community can have full access to the opportunities, rights and services available and can be represented in all social processes. In the context of migration policies, it refers specifically to immigrants in a host society.

Labour market: Space in which those offering and those requiring a job meet and exchange needs. It is the market where there is a confluence between the labour demand and labour supply.

Learning cities: A new approach to urban development where learning is a key tool for social inclusion and urban generation. Learning refers both to individuals (usually life-long learning) and institutions (awareness to innovation), and strategies are developed through active partnerships and networking between cities, towns and communities.

Liberal state: Market based.

Low skilled jobs: Those jobs that do not require qualifications to be carried out.

Matrix: Interconnected net. Formative ‘tissue’ at the base of something.

Metabolism: The process by which biophysical matter (water, cows…)  is transformed into useable, ownable and tradable commodities (Coe et al, 207, p.161) through the exploitation of human labour (Swyngedouw, 2006)

Migration: Human population displacement that occurs from a place of origin to another destination and that implies a change of habitual residence.

Neoliberal economic privatisation: Increasing growth of private sector (enterprises/companies) and simultaneous withdrawal of state (less state intervention).

Occupational structure: Labour market.

Polarised socio-economic groups: Dual social structure based on the existence of two separated groups: ‘the rich’ and ‘the poor’.

Political liberalisation: Institutional structures replaced by private ones.

Post-fordism: Is the name given to the dominant system of economic production, consumption and associated socio-economic phenomena, in most industrialized countries since the late 20th century. It is contrasted with Fordism, the system formulated in Henry Ford’s automotive factories, in which workers work on a production line, performing specialized tasks repetitively. Definitions of the nature and scope of Post-Fordism vary considerably and are a matter of debate among scholars.

Post-Fordism is characterized by the following attributes:

  • Small-batch production.
  • Economies of scope.
  • Specialized products and jobs.
  • New information technologies.
  • Emphasis on types of consumers in contrast to previous emphasis on social class.
  • The rise of the service and the white-collar worker.
  • The feminisation of the work force.

For more information, read the definition in Wikipedia

Poverty concentration: A whole neighbourhood of poor people

Precarity/precariousness: Threatening and dangerous condition of excessively depending on chance, uncertain premises or the will and pleasure of others. Entails a profound lack of security and/or stability.

Private actors/business sector: Individual or collective participants in economic and social life which are not controlled by the state and usually act for profit.

Recognition: Public acknowledgement of cultural difference of a group. It is a claim of multiculturalist approaches to diversity.

Redistribution: An economic theory or policy that advocates reducing inequalities in the distribution of wealth.

Segmented labour markets: Dual labour markets, which consist of various sub-groups with little or no crossover capability. The labour markets are divided in 2 sectors: primary sector and secondary sector. The primary sector generally contains the higher-grade, higher-status, and better-paid jobs, with employers who offer the best terms and conditions. It is a male dominated sector. The secondary sector is characterised jobs which are mostly low-skilled and require relatively little training. There are few barriers to job mobility within the secondary sector. Because the jobs are unattractive there is little incentive to stay, and there are high levels of labour turnover, with workers moving on to other jobs or employers. Wages are low, and terms and conditions of the job are poor. It is a female dominated sector.

Segregation: Separation, marginalisation.

Social capital: Social networks an individual has access to within a community, as a result of their position in the social structure. Social capital allows individuals to have opportunities for collective action and participation in the improvement of the community, but also generates discrimination for the less favourably positioned in the social structure.

Social cohesion: It is not completely clear what social cohesion means. The term is widely used in European policy and research, and brings up a powerful image of a society that hangs together, that has sufficient unity to avoid continual conflict and division. It is conceived as the ideal solution to all social tensions and problems in modern cities, such as social exclusion, poverty and violence.

However, social cohesion cannot really be defined or taken for granted, because it refers to the contradictions of the human condition and capitalism:

  • As regards the human condition, people desire to be part of something and to belong, but also to be different and unique. People want to be treated equal and also valorise diversity.
  • As regards the contradiction inherent in capitalist modernization, in capitalism change and innovation are the main drivers, but at the same time people aspire to belong and to lead a good and secure life, and therefore, there are constant tensions between stability and transformation which people, communities and cities have to negotiate.

Social identity: the identification of individuals as members of a group. Its members share aspects among them.

Socially inclusive: It aims to take all the people (or as more people as possible) into account.

Social mobility: It is the degree to which an individual’s family or group’s social status can change throughout the course of their life through a system of social hierarchy. It is also the degree to which an individual’s or group’s descendants move up and down the class system.

For more information, read the definition in Wikipedia.

Social polarisation: It is the process of segregation within a society that may emerge from income inequality, economic restructuring, etc. and result in such differentiation that would consist of various social groups, from high-income to low-income. It is the process of growth of low-skilled services jobs at the same time of the expansion of elite of higher professionals.

For more information, read the definition in Wikipedia.

Socio-democratic state: High State intervention and regulation.

Stigmatisation: Act of stressing on the distinction between ‘the rich’ and ‘the poor’. It fosters separation.

Subnational: Level of participation below that of the sovereign state; regional or local. There is a growing relevance of this level due to the emergence of new decision processes.

Supranational: A scale of decision-making that transcends national boundaries as a part of a global transformation of capitalism.  This phenomenon transforms the state and implicates civil society actors in policy-making processes.

Theory of citizenship (T.H. Marshall): Classic liberal theory which considers citizenship as the legal status providing rights and duties to members of a nation-state. Marshall’s theory is based on his seminal essay “Citizenship and Social Class” (1950), which analysed the development of citizenship as a development of civil, then political, then social rights, broadly assigned to the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries respectively. His concept of citizenship has created much dispute, especially because it is a restricted description of citizenship and because this definition does not take into account social inequalities.

Unemployment: It occurs when a person is available and willing to work but currently without work.

Unitary housing systems: Systems which treat public and private sectors in a coordinate and flexible way.  These aim to let the market freely determine the balance between owning and renting. (e.g. promoting easier/cheaper access to housing for people that already occupy a space).

Urban metabolism: The flows and links, in cities, between humans, infrastructures, energy, etc.

Urban perspective: To study or analyse a urban phenomenon taking into account the specificities of the context, the city, where it takes place.

Volatile (owner-occupied sector): Varies often and widely.

Vulnerability: Condition of being more susceptible to injury or attack (e.g. of vulnerable groups: older people; migrants, asylum seekers and ethnic minorities; low income groups and unemployed people; children; women; single-parent households or even households with several children…)

Welfare services: Actions or procedures that cover the basic well-being of the individuals and the society. They may be provided as a citizenship right, or negotiated in the market, and managed by governments and institutions or private actors. These efforts usually strive to improve the financial situation of people in need but may also strive to improve their employment chances and many other aspects of their lives including sometimes their mental health. In many countries, most such aid is provided by women (family members, relatives and members of the local community) and is only theoretically available from government sources.

Withdrawal of the State: Welfare provision is less and less assumed by the State. The role of the State is weakened in favour of the role of the market, that is strenghthened.


One Response

  1. Hi
    I think that this glossary is very usefull to know about a few concepts that are not clear, in the case you are related on a complete different field.

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