Conf: The City. Analyzing Contemporary Transformations and Structures 09.-10.03.12 Uni Bielefeld

The City. Analyzing Contemporary Transformations and Structures –
Bielefeld 03/12

09.03.2012-10.03.2012, Bielefeld, IBZ, Universität Bielefeld, 33615
Bielefeld, Germany
Deadline: 01.10.2011

Today, we focus on different aspects of urbanity when we talk about
characteristics of and challenges for contemporary societies and their
built environment. Depending on the respective point of view,
demographic changes, the anticipated climate change potentially altering
human behavior, the different appreciation of knowledge and information
or transformations in production patterns are taken as factors affecting
the appearance, the characteristics and the functions of the places of
societies – and therewith also of cities.

Social sciences dealing with urban phenomena generally ask for the
interrelations of the social and the physical/spatial. Urban structures,
understood as results of social processes, are in focus.But there are
different thematic traditions: In Germany, social inequality in cities,
resulting in social and spatial segregation, has long been a topic of
great importance. In the Anglo-American context, housing and racial
differences have been major research areas for several decades. In
addition to these specific traditions of studying the city, phenomena
themselves show regionally differing characteristics, greatly visible in
the cases of shrinking cities and mega cities. And processes of urban
transformation have always had transnational, maybe even global facets,
too, as it can be seen in the case of global cities.

The workshop asks for both urban transformations and urban structures
that can be analyzed by social scientists. What are recent developments
and transformations of cities? What are the specific challenges
researchers are confronted with in these cities? How can we adequately
analyze and analytically formulate contemporary urban phenomena? In what
respect do cities possess features that are specific for the late 20th
and beginning 21st century, i.e. what are typical structures? What kind
of social transformations influence the character of cities and in how
far do cities in turn influence social developments? In what respect can
cities be understood as specific physical-spatial structures resulting
of (social) developments?

This workshop aims at bringing the social scientist’s perspective on
contemporary urban transformations and structures into focus. What
specific challenges are inhabitants, city planners, but also we as
researchers confronted with? What is life like in (post)modern cities,
how can these cities be characterized? What kind of relation exists
between cities and the societies they are embedded in? Therewith,
questions arise concerning both the adequate theoretical framework for
urban transformations and structures and their thorough empirical
analysis. Additionally, the workshop asks for methodological reflections
on adequate forms of researching these developments.

The workshop consists of two parts: (1) We invite PhD candidates in an
advanced state and PostDocs in an early state to send proposals for
presentations dealing with the questions mentioned above from a
sociological or closely related perspective. (2) Master students from
all fields who work on the topics named are encouraged to apply for a
poster session to present their work.

With this, the discussion on contemporary urban phenomena shall be
deepened and the discipline of (urban) sociology reflected during the

Character of workshop:
The workshop is designed to be a discussion-intensive platform for
exchanging research results and ideas. The participants are encouraged
to allow extra time in advance for preparing the discussion of
participants’ full papers and presentations. To facilitate the
circulation of papers, data, and other useful material, a Wiki will be
set up in the beginning of 2012.

The workshop will be opened by a keynote lecture that will introduce
into the topic. Workshop language is English. Selected papers will later
be published in the journal InterDisciplines. Journal of History and

Please send an abstract of app. 500 words until 1st Oct 2011 to, indicating whether you apply for a presentation
or a poster, and include a short CV of yours (max. 2 pages).

Time schedule:
1st Oct 2011: deadline for submitting abstracts; for presentations: app.
500 words, language: English; for posters: app. 500 words, language:
English or German
1st Nov 2011: announcement of acceptance
15th Jan 2012: deadline for submitting full papers; applies only for
presentations; 5-7000 words, language: English
30th Jan 2012: circulation of full papers among participants
9th-10th March 2012: workshop

Further information:
The workshop will take place at the University of Bielefeld, Germany,
and is funded by the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology.
The workshop organizers will compensate for the participants’
accommodation in Bielefeld (1 night). In addition, Master students who
have successfully applied for the poster session will be issued a small
grant for participation.

Inquiries can be send to Anna-Lisa Müller at

Anna-Lisa Müller
Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology, Universität Bielefeld