Field of Research: Urban Economy

Historically, urban design and city planning have had a strong economic effect on land policy, land management, location policy, and the negotiation of land and property rent in welfare economics. Theories about the relationship between the use and exchange value of space were also expanded around the new role of symbolic economies (cultural, medial, and attention economies) in urban development by the time structural change coined as the shift from Fordism to postFordism began.

On the one hand, these analyses are concerned with municipal provision of city dwellers with basic public services and the alteration of ownership conditions in the city, and on the other hand, urban design and city planning deal with various partnerships and coalitions on a per project basis, with a view to the activity of markets and market players in urban space.

In the course of structural change, co-operative coalitions are increasingly forged between market, state, civil society, and other institutions (such as public-private partnerships, construction or service concessions, BIDs, urban design contracts, etc.). Moreover, during the last decades, city administrations experienced an entrepreneurial shift (the ‘entrepreneurial city’) that the social sciences have taken up with some scepticism, and which is interpreted as a neoliberal turn.

While an economic analysis of the urban economy continues to take priority in the areas of public infrastructure services (water, gas, electricity, waste collection, etc.), management rationales (project life cycles, short-term return expectations, controlling, etc.) are also catching on in the public sector. Economic perspectives therefore have a significant impact on urban design and city planning. They provide a view of the prevailing innovations and new labour markets in the city, and consequently, of the restructuring of the urban economy. At the same time, however, they also point to economic crises that accompany the emergence of a global economic structure and recurrently lead to the decline and decay of urban space and precarious conditions of urban life.

It is the task of this area of study to elucidate the dilemma of an unstable, crisis-prone, and at once innovative capitalist urban development, and to explain it using specific examples. To this end, a differentiated, equally constructive and critical view is presented of the different contributions of economics, business management, and social sciences research to urbanization processes in the period of late capitalism.