Karin Christof is a PhD student at the Department of Cultural Studies and Political Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. Having studied architecture at the Vienna University of Technology, as well as fine arts at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, her research interests are directed towards issues of professionalism, governance, citizenship, and urban planning.
Her dissertation project Practices of Citizens in Built Environments is situated within the transition experienced by our welfare states where governments have taken a smaller role in delivering urban projects or public services. As a result, there has been an increasing trend for citizens to organize themselves to take care of former public tasks, like how to deal with neglected or abandoned public housing stock. The Netherlands delivers an interesting case study on the positioning of such citizen initiatives and their impact on urban policy, with a long history in squatting as well as a culture of dialogue and negotiation. Operating in the field of urban design and planning, citizens may temporarily set up their own initiatives, in consultation with municipalities and corporations for joint projects for the neighbourhood. Experimenting with urban and social regeneration projects, these urban actors combine fields and practices of knowledge outside their own working field.
The research will explore the relationship between citizenry activities for public goods and professional skills mobilized. What are the notions of precarity, citizenship, and professionalism that are inherent in the practices of these citizen initiatives? By developing ideal types of these urban actors, we will ask how their contributions serve the public domain in the city, and how these practices emerge in the contemporary conjunctures of crises, new social and economic insecurities, and (un)employment.