Whose knowledge matters? Competing and contesting knowledge claims in 21st century cities


Cities face critical challenges in levering their knowledge assets to develop suitable strategies for sustainable urban development, in the face of imminent problems around housing, social services, environment and quality of life. Yet the professionalization of urban governance has constrained the ways in which citizen knowledge can inform these strategic development processes, thereby hindering how vernacular knowledge resources can be mobilised to address pressing urban problems. The “Knowledge Matters” project explores the functioning of citizen knowledge in urban decision-making and sustainable development projects, to understand how urban management can best respond to the grand urban challenges. The project draws on theories relating to the sociology of knowledge, urban politics and sustainable development to foreground the issue of urban dissensuses, as arenas where professional meets citizen knowledge. The project develops an innovative methodology for disclosing citizen knowledges, “telling controversial urban stories”, where diverse professional and vernacular knowledges are brought to a common narrative level based around regulated moments of co-production. The project uses four urban controversies to excavate and reveal these citizen knowledges, and codifies those knowledges via these controversial stories into “policy-ready knowledge”, thereby revealing potential mechanisms and barriers to cities better exploiting all their citizens’ specific knowledges.





Prof. P. Benneworth

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Twente, Institute for Governance Studies


F. Eckardt MSc