Growth in WEIRD Helsinki: Countering dominant urban politics and its "green" pretentions

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Despite persistent concerns over sustainability, cities continue to be developed that serve capital more than citizens. Where urban politics prioritizes growth, "green" credentials easily turn out to be illusory. Helsinki, with its pro-environmental administration, is an example of combining "green" agendas with a culture of growth and depoliticizing debate. This essay presents two cases of this broadly ecomodernist approach. In one case this approach led to proposing the destruction of irreplaceable green space and in the other, to drawing residents into international circuits of finance and data. This problem does not just emerge from corporations and elites, however. Drawing on Harvey Molotch's idea of "the city as growth machine", we suggest that growth ideology reflects a culture that, following psychologists, we might call WEIRD: Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich and Democratic. Its claims are founded on a historically particular but widespread conception of global progress that is increasingly questioned.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-31
Number of pages19
JournalSocialni Studia/Social Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • "Green" growth
  • Degrowth
  • Helsinki
  • Planning for sustainability
  • The neoliberal city
  • Urban growth


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