Rethinking Urban Justice in European cities. Between the neo-liberal turn and the socio-innovation rhetoric

European cities have been historically characterised by a strong association between social cohesion, relatively high quality of life and good economic performance. The strong influence of public institutions on urban development in Europe as a whole, through (often national) welfare policies and urban planning, has led to local contexts characterized by lower levels of social inequalities and spatial segregation in comparison to other counterparts in the world. However, European cities differ one another and mirror differences in multilevel policy patterns, socio-economic and socio-demographic structures characterising European states.

Today in the wake of long-trend transformations associated with the post-industrial transition, the demographic changes, welfare retrenchment and – more recently – the economic and financial crisis affecting most countries in Europe European cities are under strong pressure. Such transformations are indeed gradually affecting the territorial cohesion of Europe. This is true in general, even though, consequences playout dissimilarly in the different contexts, promoting the emergence of distinctive patterns of economic, political and social development for cities. Departing from the existing differences of the models emerged during the post-war Thirty Glorious Years, but squeezed between reduced state financial support and increasing social needs, some cities are learning to socially innovate their policies. Other cities, instead, are characterized by a stronger neo-liberal turn.

  • What are the consequences of these processes on inequality and social justice in European cities?
  • What are the different developments of the “European City Model(s)” resulting not only from “path dependent” dynamics but also of “path shaping” agency?

 Papers might want to disentangle the relationship between specific multilevel governance arrangements on the one side, and the ability of local institutions in dealing with new social needs and problems in innovative ways.

Roberta Cucca, University of Vienna

Yuri Kazepov, University of Vienna