Journal Article

Towards the ‘just city’? Exploring the attitudes of European city mayors


After decades of equity oriented urban policies, the advent of neo-liberalism and the more recent great recession have led to their successive dismantling. On the other hand, these developments, coupled with continuing massive immigration, have led to a call for a ‘just city’ agenda (Fainstein, 2010) where policies and planning are directed towards equity, diversity and citizen participation rather than growth and cultural protectionism. Given the difficult economic and social environment, however, it is not clear whether such an agenda finds political support even at the level of cities. In this paper, we put forward both a descriptive and an explanatory research question. Firstly, can we find local political support for the ‘just city’ ideal in Europe? Secondly, what are the local conditions conducive to embracing this ideal? Building on a recent European survey of city mayors, we present a first assessment of local orientations towards the ‘just city’. Our cluster-analysis reveals a substantial share of favourably inclined mayors spread unequally across European countries. Capitalizing on subnational variation in mayoral attitudes, our multivariate regressions confirm a strong positive association with leftist party ideology, while also identifying favourable conditions for Christian and conservative mayors (medium-sized cities, low influence of the business sector). Strong voluntary associations, in contrast, are rather associated with participatory and egalitarian mayoral attitudes, but not with a positive stance towards diversity. Moreover, the positive predisposition of leftist mayors seems to wain with increasing dependency on EU funding. The exploratory study thus opens new avenues for further research.

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Dlabac, Oliver
Zwicky, Roman
Carpenter, Juliet
Pereira, Patrícia

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Arts


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-03-03

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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