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Urban Geographer and CUS-member Fenne Pinkster has initiated a collaborative research project with OIS Amsterdam, the city’s Research, Information and Statistics department, to study how Amsterdammers have experienced social distancing and staying at home in the city during the ‘smart lockdown’ period.

In a time when urban space is imagined as a source of risk and some predict that COVID-19 will fundamentally change the social and economic function of cities, this study explores how Amsterdammers themselves are experiencing the sudden and radical changes in urban life and how this is leading them to re-evaluate their home, neighborhood and the city as an attractive place to live.

By way of a city-wide survey distributed through the OIS Online Survey Panel, the study questions how experiences of home and perceptions of urban space are socially and spatially differentiated across the city. The first survey first findings are expected in early July. The aim is to repeat the survey in the winter and conduct follow-up interviews to better understand the possible lasting effects of COVID-19 on the evaluation of urban space and residential preferences related to urban living.

The findings can provide important input for current public and political debates about the city’s post-pandemic future: is the potential of cities diminished, as urban space is reimagined as a source of risk? Or enhanced through the emergence of non-state, non-market forms of solidarity and care among residents at the micro-scale? What differences can be observed in this respect across social groups and neighbourhoods? And how can this provide new ideas for creating a more liveable and equitable city? 

Research contacts: Dr. Fenne Pinkster at UvA (f.m.pinkster@uva.nl) and Drs. Hester Booi at OIS (h.booi@amsterdam.nl).