WIT Press

Urban dystopias: cities that exclude


Free (open access)


Volume 12 (2017), Issue 4



Page Range

619 - 627

Paper DOI



WIT Press




The theme of social exclusion is of pressing urgency to contemporary societies as the dynamics of the global market determine rapid and constant variations in local economic, demographic and, consequently, social factors: in a global system governed by the exclusive logic of profit, objectives of competitiveness and productivity appear to have substantially supplanted the growth and welfare of populations. These processes directly involve urban transformation: the configuration of the city, its spaces and its facilities appear to be increasingly less inspired by values of justice and social equity; it follows that possible categories of users, in relation to gender, age, social status and ethnic background, may face discrimination in relation to the free and full use of the city’s buildings and spaces. By delin- eating limits and borders – whether material or symbolic – the city constitutes a powerful vehicle of social exclusion.

The configuration of the spaces and objects of the city, once the expression of local culture and identity and the fulfilment of historically referenced poetics, languages and technologies, is no neutral act when it involves the full participation of the city’s inhabitants. Other than pursuing aesthetic and functional objectives it also determines the quality of the relationships that develop between urban space and its users, operating in terms of selectivity.

The essay attempts to reflect on the devices at work in the contemporary city as a tool of social exclusion. The assumption of the concept of public space as a common good presents itself as an unavoidable passage towards the construction of an urban reality home for the harmonious existence between all of its components, of an inclusive city, a city for everyone.


city, gated communities, public space, slums and hyper-ghettos, social exclusion