Why We'll Likely See a Lot More Urban-Oriented Protests in the Future

If there's one common thread uniting the recent protests in Brazil and Turkey, it's the growing inequality evident in cities, and the inability (or disinterest) of the public sector in bridging that gap through public services.

"Brazil is on fire, with hundreds of thousands of people hitting the streets to vent their anger and rage at corruption, the high cost of living, and proposed hikes in bus fares. Protests in Istanbul are still raging after nearly a month. Even Stockholm was raging in the recent weeks," writes Janine di Giovanni. "Welcome to the first truly urban century. It’s not going to be pretty. Reasons for these protests are nearly impossible to define, even on a superficial level, but one through line is clear—these are cases of city dwellers being plain fed up."

As Kerwin Datu posits in The Global Urbanist, "Apart from being concerned with the productive or residential dimensions of cities, people are now reacting against declines in their ability to consume the city — its public services, its public spaces, its public infrastructure. (In the case of anti-austerity protests, it is the ability to consume health services, education services, community services, etc.)"

"With more and more people flocking to urban life, is there a way we can look to the future to make our cities more habitable?" asks di Giovanni. 

"John Rossant, the chairman and founder of New Cities Foundation, which convened the São Paulo conference, claims that these uprisings, as well as the Arab Spring awakenings, are linked. Lessons must be learned from the past if we wish to live harmoniously, especially as populations explode and more of us become city dwellers."

"So how do we find a way to live harmoniously in urban settings? Rossant and many others believe that the Brazil riots are just the start of many. What’s important, he notes, is that politics in this first truly urban century will largely take place in cities and will largely be about cities. And we must pay attention."

Thanks to Daniel Lippman

Full Story: The Problem With Cities

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