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Bridging soft and hard – Towards a more coherent understanding of self-organisation within urban complexity research

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Original languageEnglish
Issue number2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Cities are becoming increasingly complex in both form and function, while the planning system retains the rational top-down mode – assuming that urbanity is predictable. However, complexity thinking affords a promising perspective on cities as uncertain and dissipative, bottom-up organizing systems.

Emerging from social sciences, the methodology of communicative approaches in urban planning is mainly qualitative, while the origin of complexity thinking is in natural sciences, relying on quantitative methods. In both discourses the concept of self-organisation in particular occurs constantly. Regarding their backgrounds, the approaches in urban planning research typically differ from each other rendering the use of the concept unclear and thereby limiting its overall applicability.

In this paper we seek to explore concepts of self-organisation and urban complexity in two different kinds of urban analyses, and to build a shared understanding which supports urban planning and development endeavours in practice.

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland