How Sustainable Is Our Urban Social-Sustainability Theory?

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This short opinion article critically comments on some current mainstream trends, characteristics, and biases in urban social sustainability research literature. Through identifying some gaps regarding geography, sub-topics, and study approaches, and through considering “off-the-map” southern urban realities, it calls for the need to refocus and reshape some of the basic notions and presumptions that currently stand behind urban social sustainability theory, concepts, and policy design. Enhancing our sensitivity to truly global urban conditions, argue the authors, would result in less expected and generic (Eurocentric) approaches regarding urban social sustainability and would contribute to its more meaningful and comprehensive understanding. A bias towards qualitative, place-based, and context-sensitive analysis is a necessary step in rendering urban social sustainability truly global as well as in the making of more place-intelligent and place-responsive planning interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8324
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2023


  • global south
  • social sustainability indicators
  • social sustainability theory and critique
  • sub-Saharan Africa cities
  • urban social sustainability


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