Austerity Urbanism and the Social Economy


  • Carlo Fanelli
  • Steve Tufts


The global financial crisis launched a prolonged period of austerity that continues to play out in the urban arena. Much needed investments in public transit, affordable housing, aging infrastructure, and social services elude municipalities constrained by low taxation regimes and interurban competition. Reductions to employee compensation have also been a stated aim of municipal austerity. The ‘social economy’, the so-called ‘third’ or voluntary sector of the economy located between the public and private spheres, is also being more closely aligned with neoliberal practices. In this regard, the state has at times imposed austerity from above or led the charge from below, and at other times created the conditions for capital to lead in an assault against urban social life. While there are no absolute paths to a more just world, there is enough evidence and understanding of the current conjuncture to demonstrate that alternatives are indeed necessary.


How to Cite

Fanelli, C., & Tufts, S. (2017). Austerity Urbanism and the Social Economy. Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research, 28. Retrieved from