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Studies in Applied Geography and Spatial Analysis

Addressing Real World Issues

Edited by Robert Stimson and Kingsley E. Haynes

This timely and fascinating book illustrates how applied geography can contribute in a multitude of ways to assist policy processes, evaluate public programs, enhance business decisions, and contribute to formulating solutions for community-level problems.
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Chapter 17: Designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating an urban community development programme in Portugal

Maria Lucinda Fonseca and Alina Esteves


Human geographers have long researched social inequalities across space, and the uneven distribution and access to resources and facilities (Harvey, 1973; Knox and Agnew, 1995; Hamnett, 1996; Amin, 2004). The epistemological evolution of science has led social geography to shift its attention from pattern description towards exploration of causal processes, with the goal of providing decision-making agents with improved information on social concerns and, ultimately, leading to social change. Thus, the issues of social justice and equity, resource allocation and accessibility, spatial marginality and segregation, and the role of the state and other local agents in counterbalancing disparities have become central to the modern social geography (Pacione, 1987; Waterstone, 2010; Hasson and Ley, 1997; Smith et al., 2010). Extensive economic restructuring in Europe over the last quartercentury, with a major reduction of the primary and secondary sectors and a remarkable growth of the services economy, has repositioned the issue of exclusion. Social exclusion is at the top of political agendas due to growth in unemployment or underemployment among less-skilled workers made redundant or relegated to the worst-paid jobs when unable to respond to the demands of the service economy.1 Often neighbourhoods where excluded urban dwellers reside are spatial expressions of their social and economic exclusion, being in the most isolated and least-serviced areas of the cities with few shops and public services, scarce transportation options and, not rarely, near ‘unpleasant’ places such as cemeteries, dumps, water treatment plants or noisy and polluting industrial areas (Fonseca, 2007). The widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ finds its territorial manifestation in increasing residential segregation and spatial fragmentation (Andersen, 2001; Andersen and van Kempen, 2001; Barata Salgueiro, 2001; Musterd et al., 2000) that are not only expressions of inequality but also factors prompting or reducing social exclusion.

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