36th AESOP Annual Congress 2024 Paris, France
“GAME CHANGER? Planning for just and sustainable urban regions”

(Un)care and austerity. Learning from new urban care commoning practices and policies.


  • Federica Gatta, Laboratoire PACTE – Université Grenoble Alpes 
  • Ianira Vassallo, DIST - Politecnico di Torino
  • Juliet Davis, Welsh School of Architecture - Cardiff University
  • Neil Turnbull, Welsh School of Architecture - Cardiff University

After the 2008 financial crash, austerity regimes have imposed more radical and varied forms of neoliberal development whose impacts in cities take the form of an austerity urbanism (Peck, 2012). The capacity of local governments to democratize urban governance becomes fundamental in order to keep social redistribution (Addison, Artioli, 2020), preserve and regulate urban commons (Milburn and Russel, 2020) and address a crisis in care (Dowling 2021).

Care relations and experiences are shaped by practices and policies that individualise, responsibilise, co-opt, commercialise, and attest in various ways to the austere waning of the state, and yet, care is also a hopeful concept, a way to (re)consider the collective possibilities of the city as a commons - as a countermeasure and alternative to forms of ‘carelessness’ emergent in the context of neoliberalism (Gabauer et al. 2021, Tronto 2017, Fraser 2017). 

This special session invites theoretically informed, empirically grounded contributions from academics and practitioners that acknowledge the ambiguities of care while exploring the potential of urban commons including ‘commons-state institutions’ (Bianchi, 2023). Papers may address one or more of the following questions: 

  • What are examples of urban commons focussed on issues and relations of care in cities? 
  • How does the commons interact with urban planning and policies in the austerity context?
  • What new power relations are being established in the context of caring commons?
  • To what extent are urban care commons providing a framework to reach beyond capital and state marketisation and austerity urbanism?
  • How is care sustained, maintained, continued?
  • What are the limits and contradictions of urban care commons? It is hoped that significant contributions to this special  session will be compiled into a special issue for the journal City, Culture and Society. 

Keywords:  Care; carelessness; commoning policies; austerity urbanism