Assessing the impact of area-based initiatives in deprived neighborhoods: The example of S. João de Deus in Porto, Portugal

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Whilst there have been many area-based initiatives to regenerate rundown areas in numerous cities around the world, many of them involving the demolition of stigmatized housing estates, far fewer attempts have been made to assess the effects of these initiatives upon the fortunes of displaced households and those who remain in these areas. By presenting the results of an empirical in-depth case study on the effects of an area based initiative targeted at one of the most deprived neighborhoods in Porto, this paper raises several epistemological concerns related to the goals, ideological assumptions, and social and spatial effects of these initiatives. Among other inter-related issues, the paper discusses the impact of conflicting ideologies upon processes of radical strategy shift and of social and territorial marginalization, and appeals to the need for more pluralistic approaches to evaluation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Urban Affairs
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)381-399
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Sónia Alves is a Post-doc Research Fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon and a Visiting Researcher at the Danish Building Research Institute of Aalborg University in Denmark. Her first degree is a BSc in geography from the University of Porto (1997). She holds a master’s degree in urban planning (2002, Faculty of Engineering; dissertation: Collaborative Planning in Contexts of Urban Regeneration), and a PhD in sociology (2011, ISCTE–University Institute of Lisbon; dissertation” The Social, the Spatial and the Political in Poverty and Exclusion: Evaluation of Urban Regeneration Initiatives in Urban Deprived Areas in Porto). Over the years, she has worked in a wide range of social science disciplines (geography, sociology, urban planning) in the field of urban studies. Her research and teaching interests are in social inequality and poverty dynamics in cities, comparative welfare state research, and housing systems.


  • Evaluation
  • demolition
  • European Union
  • Deprived neighbourhoods
  • Area-based initiatives
  • Urban Regeneration
  • Portugal
  • Porto


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