Social inclusion in the regeneration processes of historic centres

Francesca Castagneto


This paper deals with the theme of city users’ participation in the urban renewal processes. Although not a new approach, in the last years it has been considered as the best way to reach meaningful results in the planning of urban design strategies that take into account the citizens’ needs and desires. The paper focuses only on one part of a complex European Research Project carried out in the period 2011-2013 within the cooperation programme between Italy and Malta. During the research development we decided to do a specific activity related to urban knowledge and based on the cooperation between a sociologist and an architect. The historic centre of Siracusa was the case study and visual sociology was the methodological approach adopted. This is a way to connect the perception of the urban space to the process of identifying urban features. A  focus group was formed and each of its members was asked to describe a part of Ortigia by doing a photoshoot; ten photos describing the city and answering two simple questions a) What part of your city would you like to show to one of your friends who has never visited it? b) What part of your city wouldn’t you like one of your friends to see? We classified the collected photos and then we organized a public discussion to evaluate the relationship between visual perception and oral description. In this way, we activated interactions between sensitive knowledge and logical considerations. Perception and representation were defined through relationships me/other oriented and city/tourists oriented for the purpose of constructing a conception of identity of the city. I will describe, step by step, the complex process that has led to the elaboration of a model of the social representation of the Urban Identity.


Historic centres; Urban regeneration; Visual sociology; Urban identity

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