Institut de recherches sociologiques

Health in the City

Health in the City. Exploring Urban Health from a Social Sciences Perspective

25-26 June 2024
University of Geneva

Call for paper

We invite submissions for the upcoming “Health in the City. Exploring Urban Health from a Social Sciences Perspective” workshop.

The relationship between cities and health is increasingly conceived in the social sciences literature as a crucial issue for understanding social processes taking place in urban contexts and being related to various aspects of health, healthcare, and well-being. The association between health and the urban context has gained significant attention recently, in part due to the acceleration of long-term processes resulting from the pandemic. Indeed, the pandemic made visible several issues

  • the persistence of social and health inequalities in urban contexts;
  • the importance of primary and community care, as well as of public health services;
  • the role played by different levels of government and other public and private organizations in planning health services provision and in integrating health and social services, in urban contexts;
  • the multiple forms of involvement by users, users’ association and local communities in urban health and health service planning and management,
  • the significance of urban planning for livable and healthy cities and the relationship between the health and the social spheres.

There is a growing body of urban health research in various disciplines, and the “Health in the City” ¨workshop aims to deepen the contribution of the social sciences to understand the relationship between health and the city and the social dynamics that inform it. To do so, we want to take a posture that considers the city in its ambivalence: on the one hand, the city is considered an unequal and risky context for health; on the other, it is a space with salutogenic and transformative potential in creating health, well-being, and processes of inclusion and participation.

We welcome contributions that use social science approaches and tools to address the relationship between health, healthcare and the urban context in the various forms and dimensions that this relationship may have. We invite contributions of different kinds (theoretical, methodological, based on empirical research, or action research) and conducted with different methods. Presentations will be oral.

The conference will develop two main axes. 

Axis 1: preventive activities, healthy lifestyles and wellbeing in urban contexts

In this axis, we welcome contributions that delve into the factors affecting preventive activities, healthy lifestyles and well-being in urban environments – before, during and after the pandemic. The city offers conditions, resources and interactions that can be either supportive or detrimental to population health. These include for example transport and housing conditions, access to green areas and sport facilities, grass-root health-related initiatives.

Urban settings are also characterized by the presence of a diverse population, with social stratification factors such as social class, gender, race or ethnicity that matter for health conditions. We will be interested in the distribution of health in urban settings, looking at the relations between epidemiological indicators of good health and factors related to features of the urban environments and characteristics of their populations. Research dedicated to how people experience health opportunities and constraints in the city, as well as studies on local mobilizations and support groups around health issues are also of interest.

Presentations should offer a theoretical or methodological framework for examining issues related to health promotion, healthy lifestyle, and well-being in urban settings, addressing the different forms and limits of these phenomena.

Contributions could thus address several aspects related health distribution and experience in the city, including but not limited to the following ones:

  • Relations between urban settings features and health;
  • Health distribution along social stratification factors in the urban environment;
  • Gender and age issues associated with healthy lifestyles and health experiences in the city;
  • Historical changes in lifestyle and well-being in an urban context;
  • Citizen-led initiatives around health promotion in the urban environment;
  • Evaluation by residents of public policies supporting a healthy lifestyle in cities.

Axis 2: Understanding Urban Health Dynamics: Key Actors, Governance, and Conflict

In this axis, we aim to explore the relationship between health, healthcare and the city starting from the notion of complex urban health system. We welcome contributions that deepen the social dynamics that characterize the relationship between health and the city by considering its multidimensionality and multi-scalarity. We are interested in research that investigates the regulation and arrangements adopted to plan and manage health services within urban environments, as well as the role played by a plurality of actors and stakeholders in it: national and local government and public institutions, private for-profit and not-for-profit providers and organizations, professions and local healthcare workforce, local communities, citizens, and users’ associations.

The focus of the contributions may include, but is not limited to:

  • How the configuration of the health services impacts and contributes to shaping cities, and how the city and urban dynamics impact the distribution of health services.
  • How cities take charge of the population's health needs and socially marginalized groups.
  • Who the different public and social actors in the urban healthcare arena are, what role they play, and how they interact. Are interests aligned or are there conflicts of interest among key actors
  • Community and users' participation at the intersection between health services development and urban planning. How city or regional governance fosters - or not - participation and citizenship processes related to health and healthcare issues.
  • The role of integrated primary, community care and public health services, and their potential in the post pandemic urban society, in close coordination with hospital services.
  • Strategies for recruiting and retaining health workers: how (and whether) the city and urban environment can influence this.

Submission deadline: 20 March 2024

Submission guidelines:

Submissions consist of an extended abstract containing 500-800 words


  • Title
  • Author names
  • Affiliations
  • Abstract (Introduction, Methodology, Results, Conclusion)
  • Keywords
  • Selected references (optional)

 Submission Instructions:

All submissions must be sent via email to

Sara Vallerani - sara.vallerani(at)

Claudine Burton-Jeangros - Claudine.Jeangros(at)


Initiative within the 4EU+ programme and realised in cooperation with the University of Milano Statale and the Charles University

Scientific and Organising Committee

University of Geneva

University of Milano Statale

Charles University

Claudine Burton-Jeangros

Stefano Neri

Zuzana Kotherová

Sandro Cattacin


Jitka Buriánková

Sara Vallerani


Lenka Henebergová