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Urban infrastructure patching: Citizen-led solutions to infrastructure ruptures

Bryson, John R; Billing, Chloe; Tewdwr-Jones, Mark; (2023) Urban infrastructure patching: Citizen-led solutions to infrastructure ruptures. Urban Studies 10.1177/00420980221142438. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

This article explores how citizens respond to ruptures and problems in the places they inhabit by enacting adaptive improvised and incremental urban infrastructure patching. This might relate to citizens deciding to undertake small scale interventions in their communities to develop solutions to problems that are being overlooked by local government; or it might involve a community response to an ongoing systemic place-based problem that formal agencies involved in managing change are not addressing. This paper develops the concept of urban infrastructure patching with reference to conceptual debates and informed by research undertaken in Birmingham, UK. Drawing upon observations, interviews, and collective art projects, citizen-led urban patching is identified as an important urban intervention process that emerges in response to tensions between professional urban policymakers’ ostensive views of a place and the lived experiences of inhabitants. Cities are in a continual process of becoming and this includes the impacts of citizen end-user adaptive and incremental patching to maintain and enhance urban social-material environments. Two distinct contributions are made. First, citizen-end-user urban patching is based on residents’ experiences of perceived or actual ruptures in local urban infrastructure. Secondly, patching in response to ruptures is an individual and collective response. As a collective response, the power of numbers can bring about transformational change in places, but such participatory action is often viewed as challenging existing hegemonic power structures associated with representative democracy, whereas citizen-led responses can serve as a useful and parallel activity to urban government if it is legitimised.

Type: Article
Title: Urban infrastructure patching: Citizen-led solutions to infrastructure ruptures
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/00420980221142438
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/00420980221142438
Language: English
Additional information: © Urban Studies Journal Limited 2023. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Keywords: Birmingham, citizen-led end-user innovation, infrastructure, improvisation, legitimacy, urban patching
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10164110
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