The Down Side Dangers in the Social City Program: Contradictory Potentials in German Social Policy

in German Politics and Society
Author: Peter Marcuse
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This article examines the conceptual structure of the Social City Program as it has been formulated in legislation and applied in practice. It raises serious questions as to the actual impact of the program as formulated, and suggests that conceptual clarity may help both to expose its flaws and to propose alternate positive potentials. The program has a complex intellectual underlay, and clarity in the concepts used can avoid some potential dangers in its implementation. More specifically, integration is not the opposite of exclusion, and inclusion is not the same as reducing poverty. Spatial clustering can either support or weaken solidarity. Enclaves and ghettos are not the same thing, although both reflect a clustering of population groups. Finally, emphasizing "social capital" can be a way of highlighting the strength of the oppressed or blaming them for their own oppression-and these distinctions are loaded with consequences for policy.