Towards a new politics of urban sustainability

John Flint and Mike Raco

in The Future of Sustainable Cities

Published by Policy Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9781847426673
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447305545 | DOI:
Towards a new politics of urban sustainability

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This chapter argues that the economic crisis has resulted in an intensification of the tensions and dilemmas surrounding urban sustainability thinking and practice. There have been two contrasting policy agendas in response: a new emphasis on growth-first policies influenced by neo-liberal rationalities emphasising the mobilisation of private sector investment, competitive cities and prioritising economic growth over environmental issues; and alternative forms of development politics arising from economic failure and focusing on quality of life, equality of outcome and social and environmental justice. The chapter explores the possibility that boom discourses are replaced by post-growth concepts of austerity, consolidation, retrenchment and reduction. It argues for a re-engaged politics of urban sustainability that identifies alternative urbanisms, linking economic and environmental dimensions to more just and sustainable urban outcomes. It concludes by setting out required future research to inform this agenda.

Keywords: alternative urbanisms; economic crisis; environmental justice; urban sustainability; post-growth discourses; social justice

Chapter.  3792 words. 

Subjects: Urban and Rural Studies

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