Today 'social mix' is the dominant concept in urban planning (policy) to tackle issues of diversity, also in Flanders. The key assumption is that the propinquity of well-off and poor residents will lead to an upward social mobility of the poor and an increased social interaction and thus can bring a solution to urban inequality and segregation. Yet, there is little evidence of any real effect of ‘social mix’ to those supposed to benefit from. Moreover, the current application of 'social mix' in urban planning (policy), entails a very limited outlook on the different dimensions of urban diversity in the 21st century. Given that one of the main challenge for today’s mid-sized cities in Flanders consists of finding innovative ways to spatially deal with their increased diversity, this research project aims:
- First, to develop alternative spatial concepts to 'social mix' in which a broader understanding of urban diversity is incorporated.
- Second, to develop innovative methods to operationalise these new concepts in urban planning (policy).
-Building on recent socio-spatial studies, the central hypothesis of this research project is that instead of forcefully applying 'social mix' on every spatial level, it is more important that people have the opportunity to meet ànd that these encounters get 'infrastructurized'. As 'social mix 'is a deeply interdisciplinary concept, this project will employ an this interdisciplinary approach, both methodologically and conceptually.