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Citizen’s Participation and Social Sustainability in the Making of the Built Environment

Rolando González-Torres

School of Architecture, Southern Illinois University, Quigley Hall, Mail Code 4337, IL 62901-4303, USA


Abstract: The sustainability concept is normally addressed with much more intensity on environmental and economic aspects than on social relations and human coexistence. However, cities should be conceived as the citizens’ space, or rather a space at their service. Citizens are not only active subjects in goods and services usage, but they require suitable space for living and community relationships as an instrument of integral development beyond a person’s consumption capacity. Any sustainable environment relies on social structures and a city will be healthier, as far as social-sustainability refers, once its inhabitants’ ability of being involved with citizen affairs increases. Socially sustainable towns are the result of people’s involvement with sufficient doses of positive relationships and of creative interaction. Participation of people in a territory, within the city’s management and/or urban planners, promotes a sense of belonging and the exercise of collective responsibility; territory ceases to be a simple hardware to become an essential element in the social dynamics developed on it. This offers an interesting opportunity to articulate social relationships around common interests and shared projects, contributing to social structuring and physical reshaping. However, considering qualitative factors to evaluate social performance in a community is not easy and often no accepted due to the difficulty of their precise measuring. The main purpose on this paper is the introduction of indicators searching to convert these qualitative aspects into quantitative facts to be considered as valid for calculations, intended to facilitate decision taking processes on human development and territorial planning tasks.

Key words: Citizen’s, Participation, and, Social, Sustainability, in, the, Making, of, the, Built, Environment
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