Gentrification and crime. New configurations and challenges for the city.


Book edited by Carmelo Cattafi Bambaci (ITESM, Monterrey), Mario Mirabile and Edoardo Cabras (LOCUS, Palermo)

The tension between the visible city and the invisible city produces an increasingly marginalized society. The end of the Fordist pact constituted a break between the modern and postmodern city, laying the foundations for the most radical paradigm shift that the urban phenomenon has experienced in the last four decades. A specific pervasiveness has influenced different levels of the social structure, and this phenomenon has characterized the advent of the neoliberal new economy.

On a political level, the power of the city governments has been limited; on the other hand, on a social level, the depauperation of the social capital has emerged. The conjuncture between these two phenomena has therefore led to new forms of territorial production. The urban space is no longer characterized by the centrality of a single actor which the relational system rotates. On the contrary, an atomization of both the interests and the organization of daily life is taking place. Neoliberalism thus becomes the key to understanding the contemporary urban phenomenon.

The relationship between city and crime, on the other hand, has its roots in the history of urban settlements. The growing concentration of social capital, money and labor, makes the city the most suitable place for the spread of deviant behaviours (corruption, extortion, money laundering, drug dealing, robbery, and so on). Nevertheless, the relationship between gentrification and crime is difficult to read. Based on the extensive definition of gentrification provided by Jason Hackworth ("the production of urban space for progressively more affluent users"), a direct relationship between gentrification and crime is still unverified (or unverifiable).

It is interesting to observe how the areas subject to gentrification have crime rates generally lower than their previous condition. However, this analysis remains incomplete without investigating what happens in the other (non-gentrified) areas, where original inhabitants experience, not only the echo of the excellent results of the regeneration and requalification processes, but also the discomforts of changes, due to the arrival of new inhabitants, coming precisely from the gentrified areas.

Finally, it is necessary to underline that even if a co-dependence between these two variables cannot be detected, the remodeling of the strictly connected public space of gentrification provoke the necessity for evaluating secondary variables - public procurement, tourism, crime rates, etc. ... empirically related to deviant behavior.

With this project, we want to propose a reflection on the conflictual nature of the city, through the analysis of the phenomena that change its face, in structural terms. The result of this work will allow to understand the role of gentrification in the transforming action of territory and actors. The new measuring devices represent, in this sense, the most suitable tool to follow up on digital planning of the city, which act on a background - the city - whose aesthetic form is shaped by the same actors involved in the urban transformation processes.

The book aims to construct a typology of analysis and best practices to investigate the relations between gentrification and crime in their ideal context, the city.

 Contributions are asked to explore the following topics:

  • Looking to the past to understand the future. The historiographical analysis of gentrification and crime, concerning the development of urbanism, represents the starting point of the project. Therefore, it will be necessary to investigate: how does the territory change for the effect of these phenomena? What are the historical examples that allow us to describe urban transformations related to gentrification and crime? What are the future scenarios for urban landscapes?
  • Urban regimes in the digital era. Starting from Clarence N. Stone’s studies on urban regimes, we question how and when it is constituted and its operating methods in the digital era. It is important to understand what the role of urban governments is, committed to implementing urban regeneration policies in a framework of smart innovation and development. If it is true that smart cities bring benefits to the relationship between citizens and Public Administrations, in terms of efficient distribution of energy and water, smart mobility, perception of security, efficient homes and IT infrastructure, then the result of the implementation of smart innovation and development policies should be analyzed, along with the cost of these benefits, in terms of rights and socioeconomic accessibility.
  • Tools and actions for the production of urban landscape.The urban system seems to be directed toward a development model causing a concern. The relationship created between the visible city and the invisible city -inhabitants and buildings- imposes careful reflections on the new landscape production. As defined by the European Landscape Convention of 2000: "landscape means an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors". We invite to analyze which tools are most suitable for the production of a new urban landscape; with a particular focus on sustainability, greenification, gentrification, and social housing.
  • The middle-world in urban transformations.starting from the above-mentioned peculiar relationship between gentrification and the crime, we wonder if the gentrified areas, rather than the surrounding ones, can be considered as catalysts for deviant behavior (corruption, extortion, money laundering, drug dealing, robbery, and so on) and/or environments suitable for the proliferation of grey areas, and why this happens. Therefore, also which figures are part of the relational network, organized crime, mafia, white-collar workers, professionals; as well as the variables to be taken into greater consideration for this type of analysis. Is urban regeneration and renewal an attractive market for organized crime? What tools institutions can implement to improve the compliance to legal urban transformation processes? 


  • 6 May 2019 — Publication of the Call for Papers
  • 6 November — Deadline for article submission
  • December-February — Peer review
  • February-March — Copy editing
  • March-May — Proofreading
  • May 2020 — Publication

We accept full papers, written in English, 6,000 words maximum, including footnotes and bibliography. Manuscripts should be sent to

The call is open to:

  • historians of cities;
  • sociologists;
  • geographers;
  • architects;
  • designers;
  • territorial planning and urban policy experts;
  • public policy experts;
  • sociologists of law;
  • crime policy experts;
  • IT specialists;
  • Privacy and surveillance society experts.

Scientific committee



Giovanni Semi, Antonio La Spina, Mario Mirabile, Edoardo Cabras

Visual identity and graphic project