Vienna in Transition
(Dis-)Continuities of Urban Change in a European City
The model of a “European City” associating social cohesion, quality of life and economic competitiveness has come under increasing pressures over the last years. Among other forces, the post-industrial transition, socio-demographic shifts and globalization have fostered the emergence of new challenges for urban centers across Europe; yet simultaneously welfare rescaling has led local institutions to the forefront of contemporary social policy.
In this regard, systematic empirical analyses of the shifts in urban and welfare policies focusing on the local sphere within multi-level governance systems have remained scarce. It is for this purpose that this project investigates the role of structural factors, path dependencies and governance arrangements in shaping the capacity of local institutions to deal with new social needs and challenges.
Within this broader picture, Vienna – with its long history of socially inclusive urban development – appears as highly representative of the European City Model. However, under the influence of the financial crisis, austerity policies and social cohesion challenges due to migration, the city might be orienting its policies along economic imperatives. By studying the changes since 1989, this project focuses on four key areas: the labour market, housing, political participation and environmental justice. These areas will be analyzed through a mixed-method approach considering the dimensions of distribution, recognition, representation and sustainability will lead the project to:
Contribute to the debates about the specificity of the European City Model;
Provide evidence on local social policy making embedded in complex multi-level governance arrangements;
Allow to identify the virtues and barriers of local social policies in key policy areas for social cohesion.