The right to the city: from the street to globalisation

Publication date:
Jordi Borja, Emeritus professor, Open University of Catalonia (UOC)

The right to the city was constructed by citizen mobilisation. Urban, neighbourhood and citizen movements emerged out of the intellectual ferment and urban development projects of the 1960s and 1970s. It was the working classes and, to some extent, the middle class, that made the concepts their own – they intuited them without having learned them – and appropriated the instruments of transformation. With the exception of a few who joined the social activists, neither professionals nor politicians adopted them. Latin America was the continent where working class social movements that generated mass mobilisation with considerable continuity and organisation developed most. It is worth highlighting the National Urban Reform Movement in Brazil, which made politico-legal proposals, and the struggle for housing and the recognition of place in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru, among others, which managed to influence public policies, although often those who got a roof over their heads ended up without a city.