A Polanyi-inspired perspective on social-ecological transformations of cities

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Based on a Polanyi-inspired research program, we analyze urban transformations as interrelations between infrastructural configurations, i.e. context-dependent material infrastructures and their multi-scalar political-economic regulations, and socio-cultural modes of living. Describing different modes of infrastructure provisioning in Vienna between 1890 and today, we illustrate how political-economic processes of commodification and decommodification have co-evolved with socio-culturally specific modes of living, grounded in different classes and milieus. We show how, today, two modes of living—“traditional,” established during postwar welfare capitalism, and “liberal,” formed during neoliberal capitalism—co-exist. In the current conjuncture of rising inequality, neoliberal urban regeneration, and accelerating climate crisis, these modes of living are not only increasingly polarized and antagonistic, but also increasingly unable to satisfy needs and self-defined aspirations. Therefore, we explore the potential of social-ecological infrastructural configurations as an alliance-building project for a systemic social-ecological transformation, potentially linking different classes, social segments and forces around a common eco-social endeavor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 25
JournalJournal of Urban Affairs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502027 Political economy
  • 502049 Economic history
  • 504030 Economic sociology
  • 507019 Urban development planning
  • 507
  • 509

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