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.


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Conference 2021 - Vienna in Transition

Due to the current public health situation, our conference is rescheduled to the 6th of October in 2021. For more information, please contact


Vienna in Transition in uni:view Magazin (DE)

Vienna in Transition is in full motion, click here to read more about it. 


How is it possible to ensure socio-spatial justice in housing projects inspired by a degrowth narrative? To find out, please click: Potential and limitations of innovative housing solutions in planning for degrowth: the case of Vienna


This project is supported by the
Austrian Research Fund (FWF): P 30617-G29