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Urban Violence and Security Policies: Local Public and Private Practices for Securing the Urban Space (Action-oriented Research in Barcelona and Bogotá)


Charlotte Boisteau .

Prof Yves Pedrazzini .

Research Project

Urban Violence and Security Policies: Local Public and Private Methods of Securing Urban Space

> see the project description


Barcelona - Bogota - Security Policies - Urban Violence


The phenomenon of urban violence and the perception of insecurity derived from it are at the centre of the contemporary urban dynamics. In order to respond to the growing security demands made by citizens, urban policies in large metropolis are relying on a variety of public, private and community-based measures.

We analyse the ways in which violence, insecurity and security are nowadays at the origin of a radical and significant transformation of the urban space and of its uses by its inhabitants. We do so by focusing on urban planning methods that aim at solving the problems and the feeling of insecurity present in cities. While social violence builds territory, urban security policies have, in turn, a significant impact on territory and therefore can be used to justify the transformation of the urban space.

Urban planning policies define security and security itself influences the urban planning agenda, but the mechanisms involved remain poorly understood and the different fields of public action are rarely coordinated. A certain number of questions remain unanswered. Few are the ones who, to date, have analysed what works—in other words what generates conviviality and cohesion—as opposed to what does not work—that is what generates exclusion. Likewise, it is necessary to identify the actors that need to participate in the creation of urban spaces, as well as the modalities of their interventions. Public space has become a priority in the contemporary public security policies of Bogotá and Barcelona. Nevertheless, these cities do not have at their disposal the analytical tools which would allow them to know their needs better and to set up priority lines of action.

The “Urban Violence and Security Policies (VUPS) project; Local public and private practices for securing the urban space; Action-oriented research in Barcelona and Bogotá” intends to respond to this necessity. A key objective of the project is to develop tools that can help design public policies and reinforce local authorities’ capacity for dealing with security issues through urban planning policies that encourage cohesion.

The “Urban Violence and Security Policies” project, funded by the Geneva International Academic Network (GIAN) for a period of two years, will publish its results in April 2007. This project is a collaborative effort of the Urban Sociology Laboratory of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (LaSUR/ EPFL), UN-HABITAT’s “Safer Cities Programme,” and the Small Arms Survey project at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.


Violences urbaines et politiques de sécurité: pratiques locales publiques et privées dans la sécurisation de l’espace urbain (Recherche-action à Barcelone et Bogota)
French | [8933 ko] > download
Urban Violence and Security Policies: Local Public and Private Practices for Securing the Urban Space (Action-oriented Research in Barcelona and Bogotá)
English | [6725 ko] > download