The repressive turn taken in urban policies has been pointed out by many urban sociologists, particularly in the UK and US. Cities no longer form a tolerant microcosmos, where the deviant behaviour of marginal social categories – delinquent youngsters, petty criminals, drug users and drug traffickers, homeless people, prostitutes, etc. – is tolerated to a certain extent as ‘part and parcel of the urban lifestyle’. Public opinion, newspapers, policymakers and social scientists now focus on urban problems – the spatial concentration of poverty, unemployment, multi-problem families, nuisance, violence and other criminal behaviour in deprived urban areas – and generally agree that this multifaceted crisis in our cities necessitates a tougher approach to urban policy. More generally, a shift in attention seems to have occurred in urban policies. Previously primarily focused on fighting social deprivation in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and disadvantaged segments of the urban population (cf. the American ‘war on poverty’ of the 1960s and 1970s), urban policy’s central issue nowadays is ‘managing disorderly places’ (Cochrane, 2007).

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Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Snel, E., & Engbersen, G. (2009). Social reconquest as a new policy paradigm. Changing urban policies in the city of Rotterdam. Retrieved from