Call for Contributions

Polis and Democracy – the idea of the city for free citizens

Democracy, and the related ideas of free citizens and human rights, are no self-evident achievements. Worldwide, democracies are in retreat, in favor of authoritarian and autocratic regimes. Inclusion of citizens on an equal basis is essential for democracy, next to the capability for true dialogue and a community allowing for diversity in public discourse and positions. 

It was an idea that originated in Western culture, and one of its origins has been the Greek Polis. In its democratic versions, it is a human habitat where free citizens vote and discuss with equal rights and duties, to actively influence their own lives – and not just getting influenced as it is the case for the majority today, influenced and effectively steered by just a few in power, no matter if on the political level or that of multinational corporations.

The community of free citizens was a reality and a dream, at the same time, a dream reflected in many utopias. One of the habitats of such a community is the city. Today, the majority of all people worldwide live in cities.  As regards the basic human condition, for Aristotle, the human being was a zoon politikon, an animal living in the Polis. For human beings, it is ‘natural’ to live in that way. A Polis means community, i.e. true inclusion, and in its democratic variants, deliberate participation in molding the habitat where I, as a free citizen, am living.

What about these features today, even in pro forma democratic states? Is a ‘parliamentary’ democracy still truly democratic in the sense of active, direct participation? What about the habitat, the city? What are the forces molding it? What about its architectures and their suitedness for communal living, and communities? Is a revival of city, community and direct democracy possible? Even more: is the ideal of direct democracy and cities suited to it still up to date, in times of socially and politically fragmented societies consisting of millions of people, the primate of neoliberal economy, and the Internet?     

We aim to address these and other questions in our upcoming issue of Urban Eidos. Therefore, we invite submissions from scholars, architects, practitioners, and artists who wish to engage with the concept of the ‘free city for free citizens’. Contributors are welcome to approach this topic through the lens of specific case studies, reports on concrete projects, or from a broader, theoretical/historical perspective. We look forward to receiving a wide array of contributions.

The deadline for any contributions is July 20, 2024.

For any details on the submission process please refer to In case of any question please do not hesitate to contact the editorial office via