This paper shows how the just city of Amsterdam came to live, celebrates its achievements and mourns its death. The paper suggests that an equitable distribution of scarce resources and democratic engagement are essential preconditions for the realization of a just city. Social movements of Amsterdam struggled hard to make their city just and they had considerable success. However, in the late 1980s, social movements lost their momentum and, in the late 1990s, neoliberal ideologies increasingly pervaded municipal policies. Whereas urban renewal was previously used to universalize housing access and optimize democratic engagement, it is now used to recommodify the housing stock, to differentiate residents into different consumer categories and to disperse lower income households. Part of the reason that these policies meet so little opposition is that the gains of past social struggles are used to compensate the most direct victims of privatization and demolition. Future generations of Amsterdammers, however, will not enjoy a just city.

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Department of Sociology

Uitermark, J. (2009). An in memoriam for the just city of Amsterdam. City, 13(2-3), 347–361. doi:10.1080/13604810902982813