Problem statement

Vienna is growing. And it will continue to do so. Growth however is a political challenge and not every form of growth is fondly looked upon by everyone. Also, social and ecological questions, which are more and more being addressed in contemporary city planning, are becoming increasingly pressing. It is time to think about the kind of growth we want and how it is intertwined with societal prosperity.

To address this in this project, we make use of the concept of degrowth. As a broad field of discourses and economic ideas critical of the commonplace conceptualisation of economic growth, degrowth subsumes those who dismiss any idea of continuing the way we have and acknowledge the finiteness of our resources. At the same time, social issues and cultural obstacles to economic change aren’t left out. Instead, they become an integral part of the debate. The overall aim is to emancipate society from traditional economic thinking and conceptualise economy beyond the axiom of growth.

From the degrowth debate, the concept of sufficiency, meaning sustainable acting and the enhancement of such actions, is laid out in more detail and used to describe the planning agencies, working for the city as part of the Gebietsbetreuung Stadterneuerung, supervised by the MA 25. These planning agencies work as communication facilitators between the city’s population and its government and their work on the district level is considered to be quite valuable.

Goals and question

The question which now arises from a degrowth perspective tries to find answers on how an established institution like the Gebietsbetreuung Stadterneuerung can be or is being used to promote sustainable behaviour within the population. It also asks how the city can enable and enforce such behaviour whilst acknowledging the right to the city for everyone. The following research question leads the way for this project: How do the actions of the Gebietsbetreuung Stadterneuerung contribute to a kind of city development and planning in Vienna which correspond to the idea of a degrowth city?

The results of this projects serve the relatively new debate about the concept of the degrowth city, whereas the city as the level of analysis also brings about a critical input into the discussion on matters of scale and transferability.

They also have a practical implication and are meant to be an input into the everyday work of city planning as well as for long-term political decisions. The example of the Gebietsbetreuungen may also be of use to other cities as an input to sustainable city planning.


A mix out of quantitative and qualitative research methods is used to answer the research question. These are expert interviews, field research, a qualitative content analysis of newsletters, a quantitative-cartographic analysis of cluster formation and a survey using PPGIS (Public Participation Geographic Information System) to analyse behavioural patterns and change within the population.


1.10.2022 – 30.06.2023


This project is funded by the department of culture of the city of Vienna (MA7).