Urban environmental politics meets urban theory. Insights from Lefebvre’s Right to the City

Margarete Haderer

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingChapter in edited volume


Two claims are common in current discourses in environmental politics: that cities are key sites of intervention for a shift towards greater sustainability; and that grassroots initiatives in more sustainable everyday practices (food co-ops, urban gardens, sharing initiatives, eco-housing projects) are promising signs of such a shift. Urban theory, especially theory that draws on Lefebvre’s Right to the City, challenges both claims. For one, it delivers an ‘episteme of the urban’ that focuses less – as is commonly the case – on ‘sites’ (cities) than on the planetary processes that underpin the making and re-making of given sites. Second, it challenges the common ‘doxa’ that ‘truly’ transformative grassroots interventions have to operate at a distance from dominant political languages, such as the language of rights. By brining urban theory into conversation with urban environmental politics, this contribution suggests a) that the scope and limits of urban environmental politics heavily hinges on how one conceives of the urban; and b) that the fact that grassroots initiatives in sustainability often remain ‘stuck in the niche’ may have
to do with political strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterdisziplinäre Stadtforschung. Herausforderungen und Perspektiven
Editors Raphaela Kogler, Alexander Hamedinger
Place of PublicationBielefeld
PublisherTranscript Verlag
Pages189 - 207
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 506013 Political theory
  • 506014 Comparative politics
  • 603119 Social philosophy
  • 504029 Environmental sociology
  • 507 not use (legacy)
  • 504026 Social history

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