Accepted Paper:

Retiree Rebels: Urban Resistance 80+  

Author:

Carolin Genz (Humboldt-University of Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

Senior citizens are new actors in the field of urban resistance, who seek to form an active part of urban society. They influence the discourse on the transformation of the dwelling market and negotiate questions about how we want to live in the future and what kind of urban society we imagine.

Paper long abstract:

This case study brings to light new actors in the field of urban development from below: senior citizens. The paper explores the challenges and adaptations that face senior citizens, as they seek to change the urban fabric - via new and traditional practices of resistance. The senior citizens in question are people aged between 75 and 90 years. They put up resistance against their landlords, squat their homes in protest against neoliberal urban development politics; organize online-petitions and flash-mobs. These new actors influence the discourse on the transformation of the dwelling market, the government's urban policy ideas, and negotiate questions about how we want to live in the future; what kind of democracy and urban society we imagine.

I analyze how these senior citizens are developing forms of collaborative resistance practices against raising rents and gentrification, forms that are defined by the limitations of their age and health. Which kinds of urban resistance and organizational aspects are unique to this specific group of actors? What is the role of their special physical circumstances, their deteriorating health, their uncertainty about sudden death, and their modest income as retirees? Put simply, the retirees face challenges in the urban development processes that are different to those of the 'average' citizen. This paper devotes scholarly attention to this (rather unusual) protest group for two main reasons. Firstly, the retirees represent a demographic group that is a large proportion of city's population, and secondly, as the case study demonstrates, they want to get politically involved.

Panel Urba01
Urban development from below