Introduction: Infrastructural stigma and urban vulnerability

Hanna Baumann, Haim Yacobi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In this introduction to the Special Issue ‘Infrastructural Stigma and Urban Vulnerability’, we outline the need to join up debates on infrastructural exclusion on the one hand and urban stigma on the other. We argue that doing so will allow us to develop a better understanding of the co-constitutive relationship between the material and the symbolic structures of the city shaping urban exclusion and vulnerability. Positing that stigma is not merely a symbolic force but has significant material effects, we show how urban dwellers often experience it in deeply embodied ways, including through impacts on their physical health. Furthermore, stigma is not only imposed on the built environment through discourse, it also emanates from the materiality of the city; this agentic role of the city is often disregarded in sociologically-informed approaches to urban stigma. When infrastructures become sites of contestation about urban inclusion, stigma can be utilised by stigmatised residents to demand connection to public networks, and the wider symbolic inclusion this entails. Through examining the issue of infrastructural stigma in cities and urban territories across the Global North and Global South, as well as the places in between, the nine articles in this Special Issue pay attention to the global relationalities of infrastructural stigma. Ultimately, our focus on the infrastructural origins of stigma draws attention to the structural causes of urban inequality – a reality which is often occluded by both stigma itself and by prevalent academic approaches to understanding it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-489
Number of pages15
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • infrastructure
  • stigma
  • urban exclusion
  • urban health
  • vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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