Neighbourhood upgrading: A fragmented global history
This survey reviews the history of, and issues associated with, neighbourhood upgrading, defined as focused, coordinated action whose main purpose is to improve the physical and/or social conditions in particular, relatively disadvantaged urban subareas, for the benefit of existing residents. The survey brings together the fragmented, relevant literatures of historians, social scientists and policy analysts pertaining to both the global North and South. It considers the dimensions of disadvantage, together with the peculiar conditions of urban settings, problems of neighbourhood scale and boundaries, and the targeting of people or places. It reviews why governments act, and why they might prefer upgrading over laissez faire (neglect) or clearance. The longest section, organized historically and by world region, discusses the changing nature and importance of physical as opposed to social goals. It considers the agents involved in upgrading, including municipalities, property owners, other residents, and non-profits, before sketching major shifts over the past century and a half: the eventual shift from physical to social goals, the growing role of residents, and the rising importance of upgrading itself. These are attributed to the long-term expansion of government, the faltering rise of democratic practices, the growth of home ownership, the demise of colonialism, the rise of international agencies, and lately environmental concerns. A concluding discussion highlights issues that researchers and planners need to consider.
Progress in Planning