Overcoming the tragedy of urban commons. Collective practices for a healthy city ecology in disadvantaged neighborhoods

Mare Knibbe*, Klasien Horstman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper provides insight into collective practices for promoting a healthy city ecology in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Using ethnography, we analyze the actions of a citizen collective to improve a park as 'urban commoning' and 'placemaking.' The analysis shows that first, the collective received ambivalent bureaucratic support; second, the open character of space commons enabled collective responsibility and democratic publics, but also made them vulnerable; and third, in providing informal security, the collective restrained itself to avoid stigma and retaliation. We conclude that open commons enable collective responsibility, but in disadvantaged city areas, they suffer from ongoing bureaucratic governance and accumulations of adversity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102777
Number of pages10
JournalHealth & Place
Early online date17 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Disadvantaged neighborhoods
  • Healthy city ecology
  • Neoliberal reform
  • Parks
  • Placemaking
  • Urban commons

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