Il·lustració: Patossa

Loneliness in the big city

Barcelona Metròpolis

Solitude can be enjoyed or suffered, and we can even feel alone when surrounded by others. In Barcelona, where there are over 100,000 individuals over the age of 60 living alone, there are also a number of support programs for seniors. We’ll interview some of the protagonists and beneficiaries of these services, who’ll show us how something as simple as going out in good company can help us regain our love of life.

Foto: Dani Codina

From an evolutionary perspective, loneliness has been defined as a desire for social interaction. It’s a psychological and social condition that includes emotional aspects, cognitive aspects and a discomfort that we should see as the result of insufficient social support. Loneliness reflects our vulnerability and our need for others.

Foto: Dani Codina

Living alone does not necessarily mean suffering from that, but over time social networks are weakened or lost, and people feel increasingly excluded and socially isolated. The situation is worse in the case of women, most of them on low pensions. Barcelona addresses the problem of loneliness among elderly people through public and charitable initiatives.

Foto: Justin Tallis / AFP Getty Images

Alone in the crowd

Walter Oppenheimer

The problem of loneliness has become so acute in the United Kingdom that at the start of the year the Government decided to focus one specific department on combating this scourge of the 21st century, and set up a kind of Ministry for Loneliness.

Foto: Dani Codina

Social interaction improves health

Raquel Paz Caballero

People’s life expectancy varies according to their gender, the neighbourhood where they live, where they work or their level of education. One of the factors that can influence their state of health is loneliness.

Foto: Justin Tallis / AFP / Getty Images

Over the course of our lives we experience moments of liberating solitude, and others when, lost in a sea of unwanted isolation, all we can do is to try to keep afloat. In an ageing society like ours, people often have loneliness as their companion during their final years.

Foto: Dani Codina

Isolated in the age of internet

Francesc Núñez Mosteo

Digital communication has greatly increased our capacity to interact with others. However, one element radically affects the relationships we can establish virtually: physical absence. They lack the empathy and all the social and personal knowledge transmitted by our bodies.

Il·lustració: Joan Negrescolor

The challenges of gentrification

Barcelona Metròpolis

Barcelona, like other European cities, is subject to intense gentrification pressures in some of its most emblematic neighbourhoods. In this dossier, with the help of leading specialists in urban issues, we review the particularities of this phenomenon.

Foto: Vicente Zambrano

A tale of urban warfare

Gerardo Santos

Neoliberal policies have transformed traditional urban spaces for socialising, which have been taken over by mercantilism. Gentrification, far from being neutral, is in fact a process that is defined in terms of class and therefore of conflict.

Foto: Dani Codina

To prevent residents being driven out of their neighbourhoods, Barcelona must follow three courses of action: civilise the property market, build up public housing stock with a well-balanced geographic distribution and turn to social co-production of mixed residential solutions.

Foto: Vicente Zambrano

() Diversos municipis que han emprès iniciatives de creació d’espais verds han generat noves desigualtats o han exacerbat les que ja existien. Com abordar els efectes indesitjables i inequitatius de l’urbanisme verd?

Foto: Dani Codina

Gentrified neighbourhoods are an object of desire for many tourists and, at the same time, the presence of tourism reinforces gentrification processes. Far from being a seasonal phenomenon located in specific spaces, tourism competes for resources with the other citizens, leading to the displacement of the resident population.

Foto: Vicente Zambrano

() Situats en la disjuntiva entre decadència i renovació, els mercats tradicionals es poden convertir en eines poderoses de gentrificació quan, apostant per una modernització radical, modifiquen els usos del seu espai juntament amb l’oferta de productes i els preus vigents.

Foto: Vicente Zambrano

Women in particular suffer the real-estate violence generated by gentrification. Public regulation of the property market ought to incorporate gender as an indicator of vulnerability. At the same time, labour legislation should be changed to protect reproductive and care work.

Foto: Dani Codina

La Ribera, Gràcia, Poble-sec, Sant Antoni and the area around the Rambla del Poblenou are the most gentrified areas in Barcelona, according to the results of a pioneering study that will help develop preventive policies.

Foto: Arianna Giménez

Barcelona’s Mental Health Plan emphasizes children and young people, as these are the groups most vulnerable to psychological suffering and illness. Barcelona is the only city in Spain and one of only a handful in Europe with a project of this kind.

Foto: Arianna Giménez

Silvestra Moreno promoted the first Association of Family Members of the Mentally Ill of Catalonia, and she later founded the Mentally Ill of Catalonia Foundation, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. In 2000, she was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi for her fight to defend those affected by mental illness.

Foto: Arianna Giménez

Mental suffering and illness increased in frequency among the population of Barcelona from 2000 to 2016 as compared to previous periods. Mental health problems also affect women to a greater degree.

Il·lustració: Marc Pallarès

Foreign communities in Barcelona

Barcelona Metròpolis

Barcelona is one of the cities in Europe that has been the most understanding of the drama of the refugees, and it has also been a magnet for immigration in southern Europe. The communities of people from abroad living in Barcelona today are bigger and more diverse than ever.

Foto: Pere Virgili

Open city

Bernat Puigtobella

Today, Barcelona houses more foreigners than newcomers from other parts of Spain. Globalization has irreversibly changed the demographic face of a city that became a magnet for migratory movements from all around the world this turn of the century.

Foto: Pere Virgili

In contrast to what happened with other migratory communities, the economic recession didn’t cause the sacrificed, money-saving and hard-working Chinese inhabitants of Barcelona to return home or leave for other destinations: the immense majority of them remained. The recession only slowed their arrival.