Neoliberal Urban Movements?: A Geography of Conflict and Mobilisation over Urban Renaissance in Antwerp, Belgium

  • Maarten LoopmansEmail author
  • Toon Dirckx
Part of the GeoJournal Library book series (GEJL, volume 102)


This chapter maps new forms of contentious mobilisation around neoliberal urban policies in Antwerp, Belgium. Neoliberal urban policies are confronted with the uneasy task to match local competitiveness with collective provision and social cohesion. The upgrading of the built environment offers the opportunity to integrate both aspirations, but simultaneously provides people with a concrete focus for mobilisation. Building on Urban Social Movement theory, we identify 5 types of urban mobilisation, each with its own geography linked to particular types of urban development projects. Although our analysis reveals how neoliberal urban development projects spur strong grassroots reactions, these remain fragmented and do not form part of a broad-based urban movement worthy of the name. Neoliberal urban development projects appear too divisive for the local populace to provide a basis for broad based collective mobilisation.


Urban Development Social Housing Homeless People Urban Policy Gated Community 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. AG Vespa. (2007). Jaarverslag 2006. Antwerp: AG VESPA.Google Scholar
  2. Beaumont, J., & Loopmans, M. (2008). Towards radicalised communicative rationality: Resident involvement and urban democracy in Rotterdam and Antwerp. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 32(1), 95–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Castells, M. (1977). The urban question. A Marxist approach. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
  4. Castells, M. (1983). The city and the grassroots: A cross-cultural theory of urban social movements. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
  5. Castells, M. (2002). Local and global: Cities in the network society. Tijdschrift Voor Economische En Sociale Geografie, 93, 548–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cheshire, P., & Gordon, I. (1996). Territorial competition and the predictability of collective (in)action. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 20(3), 383–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Christiaens, E., Moulaert, F., & Bosmans, B. (2007). The end of social innovation in urban development strategies? The case of Antwerp and the neighbourhood development association BOM. European Urban and Regional Studies, 14(3), 238–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cochrane, A. (2007). Understanding urban policy: A critical approach. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. De Decker, P., Kesteloot, C., De Maesschalck, F., & Vranken, J. (2005). Revitalizing the city in an anti-urban context: Extreme right and the rise of urban policies in Flanders, Belgium. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29(1), 152–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. De Rudder, B. (2003). The global capacity of Belgium’s major cities: Antwerp and Brussels compared. Belgeo, 4, 459–476.Google Scholar
  11. Dikeç, M. (2006). Two decades of French urban policy: From social development of neighbourhoods to the republican penal state. Antipode, 38(1), 59–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fraser, J. (2004). Beyond gentrification: Mobilizing communities and claiming space. Urban Geography, 25(5), 437–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Harding, A. (1997). Urban regimes in a Europe of the cities? European Urban and Regional Studies, 4(4), 291–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harvey, D. (1989). From managerialism to entrepreneurialism: Transformation in urban governance in late capitalism. Geografiska Annaler, 71(B), 3–17.Google Scholar
  15. Hooper, A., & Punter, J. (2006). Capital Cardiff 1975–2020: Regeneration, competitiveness and the urban environment. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.Google Scholar
  16. Hubbard, P., & Hall, T. (1998). The entrepreneurial city and the new urban politics. In T. Hall & P. Hubbard (Eds.), The entrepreneurial city: Geographies of politics, regime and representation (pp. 1–23). Chichester UK: Wiley.Google Scholar
  17. Janssens, P. (2005). De stad wor azzek zen gebore [The city where I was born]. Antwerp: BMP.Google Scholar
  18. Janssens, P. (2006). Het beste moet nog komen [The best is yet to come]. Antwerp: BMP.Google Scholar
  19. Johnstone, C., & Whitehead, M. (2004). New horizons in British urban policy: Perspectives on new labour’s urban renaissance. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar
  20. Kazepov, Y. (Ed.). (2005). Cities of Europe: Changing contexts, local arrangements, and the challenge to urban cohesion. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  21. Le Galès, P. (2002). Regulations and governance in European cities. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 22(3), 482–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Loopmans, M. (2008). Relevance, gentrification and the development of a new hegemony on urban policies in Antwerp, Belgium. Urban Studies, 45(12), 2499–2519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Loopmans, M., De Decker, P., & Kesteloot, C. (2010). Social mix and passive revolution. A neo-gramscian analysis of the social mix rhetoric in Flanders, Belgium, Housing Studies, 25(2), 181–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Loopmans, M., & Van den Broeck, P. (2011). Global pressures, local measures: The re-regulation of sex work in Antwerp Schipperskwartier. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sciale Gografie. Retrieved August 2, 2011, from
  25. Mayer, M. (2000). Social movements in European cities: Transitions from the 1970s to the 1990s. In A. Bagnasco & P. Le Galès (Eds.), Cities in contemporary Europe (pp. 131–152). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mayer, M. (2006). Manuel Castells’ The city and the grassroots. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 30, 202–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mayer, M., & Rankin, K. N. (2002). Social capital and (community) development: A north/south perspective. Antipode, 34, 804–808.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Miller, B. (2006). Castells’ The city and the grassroots: 1983 and today. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 30, 207–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mitchell, D. (2003). The right to the city: Social justice and the fight for public space. New York & London: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  30. Peck, J., & Tickell, A. (2002). Neoliberalizing space. Antipode, 34(3), 380–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pickvance, C. G. (1995). Social movements in the transition from state socialism: Convergence or divergence?. In L. Maheu (Ed.), Social movements and social classes: New actors and new agendas (pp. 123–150). London, England: Sage Publications Ltd.Google Scholar
  32. Pickvance, C. G. (1996). Environmental and housing movements in cities after socialism: The case of Budapest and Moscow. In G. Andrusz, M. Harloe, & I. Szelenyi (Eds.), Cities after socialism. Urban and regional change and conflict in post-socialist societies (pp. 232–267). Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  33. Piven, F. F., & Cloward, R. (1977). Poor people’s movements. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  34. Piven, F. F., & Cloward, R. (Ed.). (1993). Regulating the poor: The functions of public welfare. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  35. Pruijt, H. (2003). Is the institutionalisation of urban movements inevitable? A comparison of the opportunities for sustained squatting in New York City and Amsterdam. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27, 133–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Saunders, P. (1979). Urban politics: A sociological interpretation. London: Hutchingson.Google Scholar
  37. Smith, N. (1996). New urban frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist city. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Stad Antwerpen. (2005). Stadsplan veilig [Municipal security plan]. Antwerp: Stad Antwerpen.Google Scholar
  39. Uitermark, J., & Duyvendak, J. W. (2008). Civilising the city: Populism and the Revanchist urbanism in Rotterdam. Urban Studies, 45(7), 1485–1503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Uitermark, J., Duyvendak, J. W., & Kleinhans, R. (2007). Gentrification as a governmental strategy: Social control and social cohesion in Hoogvliet, Rotterdam. Environment and Planning A, 39(1), 125–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Vanneste, D., Abraham, F., Cabus, P., Sleuwaegen, L., Brock, E., De Backer, K., et al. (2003). Belgische werkgelegenheid in een mondialiserende economie: Impact op de micro-economische en de geografisch-territoriale structuur. Ghent: Academia Press.Google Scholar
  42. Wacquant, L. (2006). Punir les pauvres, le nouveau gouvernement de l’insécurité sociale. Marseille: Agone.Google Scholar
  43. Ward, K., & Jonas, A. E. G. (2004). Competitive city-regionalism as a politics of space: A critical reinterpretation of the new regionalism. Environment and Planning A, 36(12), 2119–2139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesKULeuvenCelestijnenlaanLeuven

Personalised recommendations