Social responses to the crisis and austerity policies in cities

Since the emergence of the crisis in 2008, Spain has suffered cuts and transformations in multi-level governance bringing growing inequalities that have concentrated specially in cities. Citizens have found new ways of social organisation to tackle the effects of the crisis and the cuts, not only providing services but also claiming for new forms of policy-making. These demands have had a great impact on local policy-making, and are behind the shift in the political scenario in the last local elections in Spain, when citizens’ platforms, together with leftist parties, reached power in the main cities of the country. In this project we want to analyse the emergence of socially innovative practices and its connection with local administrations.

The emergence of socially innovative practices to counterbalance the economic crisis and its connection with local government actions

This project aims to analyse the relation between socially innovative initiatives and actions from local governments.The objective is to understand the relation between different governance models and the emergence and consolidation of socially innovative practices. As previous research has shown (see the katarsis project), the relations between civil society and local administration are based on combinations of conflict and collaboration. Although it is clear that depending on the governance model of the city, the dynamics will be more based on collaboration or there will be a more conflict, the relation is complex. Are market-oriented models of governance allowing for more independent self-organised movements than context in which there is close collaboration? What is the relation between collaboration and cooptation by the local governement?


The study focuses on four Spanish cities: Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Zaragoza, and takes attention to experiences taking place in the fields of employment, economy and participation. The research agenda for the project is the following:

  • Analysing the governance model of the four cities in the framework of the multi-level context of Spain
  • Selecting case studies in the four cities and interviewing local elites and grassroots activists on their activities and the relations between administration and civil society
  • Analysing cases of bottom-linked practices in which there is collaboration between city council and grassroots movements, focusing on the relations of conflict / collaboration with the administration

Case studies






Name Innovación Social y gobernanza, prácticas emergentes para ciudades en transformación (INNOSOGO)
Funding program Programa Investigación y desarrollo Ministerio de Economía y Empresa (Gobierno de España)
Main Researcher Marisol García
Team Fernando Díaz Orueta, Maria Luísa Lourés, Santiago Eizaguirre Anglada, Ana Cano Hila, Marc Pradel Miquel, Raúl Ruíz Solá, Lídia García Ferrando
Duration 2015-2016