Unexpected Challenges for Transformative City Planning Social and Ecological Side-Effects in the Wildgarten Project

Project Details


City planners pursuing the goal of a sustainability transformation are faced with two unexpected forms of social change: First, groups within the post-materialist milieus, rather than being pioneers of a transformation of society at large, are retreating into life-style niches and secluded localities, often maintaining above-average environmental footprints and communicating primarily in ecologically correct echo chambers. Second, the rise of right-wing populism signals, inter alia, that major sectors of society experience demands for a socio-ecological transformation as burdensome and elitist, and as a threat to their own aspirations for a good life. For the City of Vienna, with its reputation as the city with the highest life-satisfaction in the world (Mercer 2017) and its commitment towards environmental sustainability and social inclusion, these unexpected changes are particularly pertinent: The city is attractive to social groups which may be categorised as post-materialist in the above sense; and it is the capital of a country currently led by a coalition government with a right-wing populist party as the junior partner. Against this backdrop, a better understanding of how the withdrawal of the environmentally aware and the scepticism of the environmentally uninterested play out in empirical reality and may affect city-planning should be a priority concern.
The proposed research project explores to what extent Wildgarten, a sustainable housing project in the making, provides evidence of both unsustainable eco-echo chambers and populist eco-scepticism. It investigates how the different stakeholders perceive and handle these risks in neighbourhoodplanning.

Financing body

Jubilee Fund of the City of Vienna for the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration
Effective start/end date1/02/1931/05/21

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (OEFOS)

  • 504001 General sociology
  • 506014 Comparative politics