Dynamic cities and rigid laws? Reflections on the role of law(s) in creating livable cities

Hanjo Hamann, Ulrich Heisserer, Nkatha Kabira, Isabel Kusche, Irina Kuznetsova, Petra Liedl, Tom Schonberg, Carla Aparecida Arena Ventura

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Cities play a key role in developing strategies towards making life livable for a large part of the world population and future generations. This chapter explores the potentials and limits of laws to improve livability in cities. Based on an understanding of cities as complex entities, it considers which regulatory tools may be most appropriate to initiate change and what typical barriers they have to deal with. The chapter discusses what laws in the legal sense, the identification and modeling of laws of self-organization as well as the analysis of individual value-based decisions can contribute to a better understanding and governance of continuously evolving cities. It also addresses the entanglement of all governance efforts with informality, the reproduction of class, gender and racial inequalities, and thus questions of social justice. Although there are limitations to legal laws in addressing existing urban injustices due to the idea of legal justice as treating everyone the same, laws nevertheless play a role in making cities livable. They create a framework of rules that limit negative externalities of individuals, which is essential in big agglomerations of people. The challenge is to identify where such rules are needed and how they may have to be adjusted in view of cities’ dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaws: Rigidity and dynamics
PublisherWorld Scientific
Number of pages28
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • cities
  • laws
  • urban development


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