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Local Matters

How neighbourhoods and services affect the social inclusion and exclusion of young people in European cities

Edited By Simon Güntner, Louis Henri Seukwa, Anne Marie Gehrke and Jill Robinson

Where young people grow up makes a decisive difference to their life chances. Drawing on case studies from ten European cities, this book looks at how the local environment and the services available for young people affect their socialization. What comes to the fore are the local matters. On the one hand, there are experiences of discrimination and marginalization due to distance and isolation, decay and neglect but also related to piecemeal and top-down approaches to youth and social services. On the other, we find signs of positive transformation and drivers of social innovation: community building projects, the revitalization of abandoned places, appreciative approaches to servicing and a whole array of tactics that young people deploy to overcome their daily struggles.

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Sofia: Fakulteta and Hristo Botev (Marko Hajdinjak)

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Marko Hajdinjak

Sofia: Fakulteta and Hristo Botev

Abstract: The city of Sofia has two deprived neighbourhoods referred to as Roma-ghettos where social exclusion is much higher than in the rest of the city. The research discovered a number of innovative social practices and projects addressing these inequalities but their impact is not sufficient to counteract the multitude of social problems in the areas.

Figure 1: Sofia map

Source: google maps

1. Introduction

This chapter is based on the fieldwork, conducted under the CITISPYCE project in 2013 and 2014 in two Sofia neighbourhoods – Fakulteta and Hristo Botev. It focuses on a variety of social inequalities affecting young people in these two areas and on different innovative practices trying to address them.

Fakulteta and Hristo Botev are the most socio-economically deprived areas in Sofia and are widely referred to as “Roma ghettos,” as the overwhelming majority of their residents belong to the Roma ethnic minority. The unemployment, social exclusion and poverty in both neighbourhoods are drastically higher than in the rest of the city, while the incomes are lower and the housing conditions and public infrastructure are worse.←239 | 240→

During the fieldwork, scholars, NGO practitioners, municipal employees, local activists, community leaders and young people from both neighbourhoods were interviewed. Based on the data obtained during the fieldwork and from the desk analysis of relevant documents, the chapter examines the socio-spatial developments and the state of...

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