Journal Article

Social sustainability : do-it-yourself urbanism, start-it-yourself urbanism


Many definitions of social sustainability focus on community engagement and economic equity as the main determinants of social sustainability. Measures to achieve social sustainability need to address (a) poverty, and (b) poverty-generating mechanisms or social and political exclusion. Governments do not take adequate steps toward social sustainability. Self-help actions of communities are an alternative route to social sustainability. Self-help actions have three main features: community leadership, focus on short-term implementation, and limited resources. Do-it-yourself (DIY) urbanism often refers to the self-help actions of communities to meet their basic needs like shelter by making changes in the urban space without government permission and resources. DIY urbanism is helpful to social sustainability more in the Global South, but it has limitations in the meaningful addressing of poverty. Start-it-yourself (SIY) urbanism refers to the ‘start’ of self-help actions (or their gesture) by communities but with the intention to pressure public and private bodies for permission and resources. SIY urbanism is helpful to social sustainability more in the Global North, but it has limitations in addressing poverty-generating mechanisms. This is because of some deals that SIY urbanism makes with public and private elites in exchange for resources to better address poverty impacts. However, we propose that SIY urbanism might be able to integrate the two aspects of social sustainability.

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Ziafati Bafarasat, Abbas
Oliveira, Eduardo

Oxford Brookes departments

School of the Built Environment


Year of publication: 2023
Date of RADAR deposit: 2023-03-28

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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