The grounded city, foundational urban systems and reliance structures

The experience of the urban citizen is shaped in significant ways by the foundational systems that provide electricity, water, transport and other services or products. These systems have often become degraded or neglected through process of financialization and a political focus on competitive cities. In this session, we invite papers from any discipline that explore the physical or social infrastructure of urban areas and its relation with people’s capacity for action and/or the quality of their access to welfare-critical services.

We welcome: i) theoretical papers concerned, for example, with thinking about actions in terms of reliance on the built urban environment or in developing the concept of the grounded city, de-financialization and the reconnection to notions of urban commonwealth; ii) empirical papers such as case studies of specific urban infrastructure, (e.g. electricity, water, transport, waste, public space etc.) as well as those that engage with experimentation and activism intended to revalue the mundane and create the conditions for a more grounded city.


Julie Froud, University of Manchester

Matthew Smith, University of Leeds