About the project

The project ‘Vienna in Transition’ aims to enrich the academic debate about the specificity of the European City Model today, analysing the social and the policy transformations in a context traditionally portrayed as highly representative of this model. Although, the literature acknowledges several new social risks as challenges to the European City Model, the magnitude of the changes and their impact is not felt and dealt with in the same way. We will use the European city framework as a starting point in order to investigate how Vienna – in a comparative perspective with other European cities – adapts to recent urban challenges.
Despite the fact that Vienna represents a prime example of a European city under growing pressure, no systematic and conceptually encompassing research has yet investigated the role of policies and institutional frameworks in shaping urban inequalities and social conditions in the city. In order to bring together the fragmented landscape of existing research and advancing the state-of-the-art, we specifically identify the following research gaps to be addressed:

  • The lack of integration of the multiple dimensions of investigation. Rarely are labor market, housing and social policies analysis combined and related to the respective contextual conditions and their transitions.
  • The lack of integration of the multiple territorial levels within which the city is embedded. Rarely is the interplay of supranational, national, regional and local governance dynamics disentangled.
  • A systematic international comparison of Vienna with other European cities is widely missing.

Finally, the project aims at enhancing an integrated urban development policy approach. More specifically, it will highlight the virtues and the barriers to multilevel coordination between spatial and sectorial aspects of key areas of urban policy in order to understand how the trade-off between neoliberal economic change and the capacity to govern social and economic transformations plays out in the city. Is it possible to combine socially inclusive policies, environmental protection and (socially) innovative initiatives with economic competitiveness? What preconditions are necessary?


Research Methodology

In order to address the above-mentioned gaps and questions, the project will adopt a mixed-methods approach. Traditionally, investigations on this topic have been mainly based on qualitative methods (especially institutional analysis and ethnographic research, we analyse social trends in the city and the policy transformations by bringing institutional, quantitative and qualitative analysis strongly in dialogue with one another. 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 the dimensions of distribution, recognition, representation and sustainability and aim at answering the following research questions:

Research Design

The research project comprises of different phases.

Phase 1 – Literature Review: An extensive literature review lays the foundation for the analysis by clarifying a common conceptual ground.

Phase 2 – Quantitative Analysis: We conduct a structural analysis of urban processes of change covering – according to data availability – the period from 1989 to 2019. Key indicators of inclusion and exclusion within the four policy areas will be analyzed in more detail. Beyond Vienna, a light comparison with other cities in Europe will situate the Viennese case in relation to developments in other cities. The quantitative analysis will provide empirical evidence of changing and varying outcomes.

Phase 3 – Institutional and policy analysis: The third phase consists of an institutional and policy analysis. By studying governmental strategies and municipal policies within multilevel governance arrangements, we focus on regulatory interventions and policy outcomes.

Phase 4 – Integrated case studies: For a more in depth investigation of the four policy areas, the fourth phase will consist of four case studies, which allow us to explore how the analytical dimensions of the "Just City" are prevalent in Vienna.

Phase 5 – Integration within and across policy areas: In the final phase, we synthesize the results from the previous phases in order to identify patterns of inclusion/exclusion as well as potential insider/outsider divides and how they changed over time.



Project Overview

Vienna in Transition. (Dis-)Continuities of Urban Change

Duration: 04/2018 – 09/2021 (42 months)

Funding: Austrian Research Fund (FWF): P 30617-G29