Socio-Geographic Urban Research

  Grafitti Unterführung Nähe Westbahnhof Copyright: Kulturgeo  

 Suburbanization of Poverty

Processed by: Carmella Pfaffenbach with Prof. Dr. Stefan Fina and Dr. Sabine Weck (ILS Dortmund)

New spatial (de)concentration of low income and poor households in German city regions

Research on the spatial distribution of poor and low income households has so far mainly been discussed in the context of large cities and the rural periphery. Newer studies also observe an increase of affected households in suburban areas. Internationally, this trend is discussed as suburbanization of poverty.

In this project, we focus on three main objectives: 1) analysis of poverty concentrations and related locational disadvantages between suburban and other urban locations, 2) exploration of spatial development specifics and the influence of social policies in Germany, 3) study of locational characteristics as well as stakeholders’ perceptions in three case studies.

Funded by the German Research Foundation
Duration: 2020 - 2021


Urbanization and Everyday Mobility in Muscat/Oman

Processed by: Maike Didero and Carmella Pfaffenbach with Sonja Nebel from Berlin

For more than four decades labour migration has contributed – and still is contributing – immensely to the development of the Sultanate of Oman. The Capital Area of Muscat is the centre of attraction for most immigrants, especially those from Europe and Asia regardless of their qualification. Because of this extraordinarily high and rapid growth dynamic, urban society is experiencing very heterogenic processes that in turn accelerate specific forms of fragmentation in urban space and social environment.

This empirical study using qualitative methods focuses on migrants’ biographies and their identity construction. It furthermore looks at the organisation and structure of as well as the social interaction within the migrant communities, for example networks. The integration of its members into Omani society is another focal topic. In migrant communities the individual’s respective position in the hierarchy of the labour market and his/her subsequent social standing vary significantly depending on the ethnic group he/she belongs to. To depict the wide range of migrants’ social and economic positions, Egyptians, Indians, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and Europeans were selected as focus groups and interviews will follow. The research project aims at disclosing how and to what extent heterogenisation and fragmentation emerge from migrants’ everyday practices. This information at hand helps analysing the possibilities, conditions and constraints as well as the interests of the different migrant communities towards a social and spatial integration in Omani society.

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Duration: 2015 - 2018


Social Innovation of Graffiti-Murals in German Cities

Editing: Christopher Hilmer

The main focus of my work lies in the field of cultural and social geographic urban research. My personal and scientific interest is specifically in the design of urban space by means of a new form of murals (neo-muralism), which emerge through cooperative planning and design processes of different actors in the (semi-)public space of global agglomerations of the 21st century. Theoretically, these interdependent negotiation processes are understood/conceptualized as a social innovation in order to provide an actor-centered and application-oriented approach. In particular, reference is made to the ambivalent phenomenon of a graffiti politics and in this context the dilemma in which actors and decision makers of urban planning and development steps find themselves. Current supra-regionally significant urban design challenges, such as structural change/de-industrialization, digitalization and reurbanization, are also considered in this context, as well as concrete problem situations and planning cultures "on the ground" in Aachen using a qualitative research approach with the perspectives of the actors involved in planning and decision-making processes, such as the cityscape-designing artists, urban and regional planning, cultural and economic development, residents' and visitors' groups, etcetera.


Mobility Practices in the Everyday Life Context of Young Families in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, Germany


PhD Project within Forschungskolleg ACCESS!, RWTH Aachen University

Processed by: Eric Suder

The research study “Mobilität in Deutschland”, published in 2018, concludes, that the car is still the major mode used in everyday life mobility. Especially families with young children use the car frequently. Within the context of an interview study in four municipalities of Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area, this PhD project examines young families’ mobility practices and the question, why a lot of families choose the car as a mean of transportation. Thereby, possible challenges including a limited time budget and increased financial costs come into the research focus. The strategies to deal with these challenges but also a possible mobility-based social exclusion are analyzed within this project. Which strategies are used for example by low-income families, families without a car or full-time working parents? For the purpose of sustainability, it is analyzed, which changes in service supply, infrastructure and personal environment would be necessary, in order to design municipalities even more family friendly and change families’ mobility practices not to be so car-oriented any more.

Funded by the Ministery of Culture and Science, North Rhine-Westphalia
Duration: 2016 - 2020