Urban Redevelopment and Social Polarisation in the City (URSPIC) is a European Commission, DG XII research project conducted in 1997-1999 and coordinated by Frank Moulaert.

Project thesis

The thesis of this research is that large scale urban redevelopment projects promote social exclusion and polarisation. It is examined whether this thesis holds or if, on the contrary, large scale urban redevelopment fosters social integration of citizens into the urban society. As polarisation and exclusion processes are acute in urban environments, the analysis of the relationship between urban restructuring and social exclusion/integration is an important task.

Units of analysis

The units of analysis are large scale urban (re)development projects (UDPs), which are implemented at the cross-roads of global processes such as global investment flows, dependence on immigrant labour, transnational information flows, value-added networks and super-national decision-making processes. These projects embody trend-breaking epochal changes such as transformations of cultural values and preferences, changes in citizenship regulation and entitlement, informalisation of labour markets and relations, as well as of competitive environments. But at the same time UDPs are decidedly local, capturing the global trends, and incorporating them in a particular local setting.

Project objectives

The project reconstructs the global and local aspects of the UDPs and how they affect the integration/exclusion of citizens in the local economy and society. There are four general objectives:
The analysis of thirteen UDPs in twelve European states and the factors of social polarisation, exclusion and integration which these projects embody. For this purpose, the dynamics which relate each project to the wider urban fabric will be examined.
The analysis of relationships between global economic restructuring and processes of integration and exclusion in the city.
The assessment of the impact of specific politico-institutional environments at the level of the European Union, the Member States, the regions and the localities, on these processes.
The development of a research methodology which allows for the transversal analysis of UDPs, their exclusion/integration processes and their institutional contexts.

Project stages

The project comprises following stages:

  1. Development of a conceptual and theoretical framework to study the global-local interaction in the case-study cities and their impact on the selected UDPs.
  2. Case study analysis for each of the relevant phases of the project development process (formulation, design and planning; construction and implementation; operation).
  3. Comparative analysis of the UDPs and the influence of Union and national policy.
  4. Policy proposals.


  1. Moulaert, F. et al., Eds. (2003). The globalized city: Economic restructuring and social polarization in European cities. Oxford geographical and environmental studies. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  2. Urban Redevelopment and Social Polarisation in the City