Sustainable Cities

Sustainable Cities

Diversity, Economic Growth and Social Cohesion

The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development

Edited by Maddy Janssens, Dino Pinelli, Dafne C. Reyman and Sandra Wallmann

This book focuses on cities, their relationships with each other and the disparities between them. Analysing cities as the places where diversity is especially apparent, where cultural richness is experienced and where conflicts often erupt, it illustrates how cultures and cultural diversity interact with economic growth and development.

Chapter 2: Facilitating Intercultural Encounters within a Global Context: Towards Processual Conditions

Maddy Janssens and Patrizia Zanoni

Subjects: economics and finance, urban economics, geography, cities, urban and regional studies, cities, urban economics, urban studies


Maddy Janssens and Patrizia Zanoni From an optimistic perspective, the promise of culturally diverse cities is the stimulation of creativity and innovation. Through ‘diversity in proximity’, cities are the places where intercultural encounters occur. Such encounters can be seen as little workshops in which individuals keep hammering away at the construction and maintenance of social reality and where distinct flows of meanings can come together, resulting in a generative cultural process. In these cases, individuals or groups may experience cultural diversity as a creative confrontation between cultural traditions that in turn provokes new understandings – bridging cultures, synthesizing them, or scrutinizing them (Hannerz, 1996). However, such encounters are complicated and uncertain because of the differences involved and the possibility of conflict and disorder. As the sad facts and stories in newspaper articles and TV shows indicate, people do not always enjoy cultural diversity and conflicts rather than creative solutions can be the result of intercultural encounters. In other words, the possibility and appeal of cultural diversity does not seem to translate easily into a practice of ‘doing’ cultural diversity. The purpose of this chapter is to present our first attempt to develop guidelines that make diverse cities socially and economically sustainable in the longer term. Specifically, we focus on guidelines that help re-invent forms of interrelatedness that recognize and value differences. We are therefore interested in identifying the conditions under which the interrelatedness among individuals and groups having different cultural backgrounds can be facilitated. We call these conditions processual as they...

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