Circular economy and the city: an urban political economy agenda

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The circular economy (CE) has become a matter of urban development. A literature review shows that the CE debate is biased toward technology-driven industrial change, while bracketing broader socio-political interests. We address this gap by exploring the political economy of scale of the CE. Looking into the case of Brussels (Belgium), a city that has recently adopted the CE as part of its socio-economic strategy, we explore how the anticipated transition to a ‘circular city’ chimes with long-standing urban development agendas. While there is little evidence of stable growth coalitions between corporate and political elites, we argue that the CE provides an ‘urban sustainability fix’ by selectively incorporating ecological goals in urban governance strategies. We further scrutinise the landscape of diverse and heterogenous CE practices in food and transport, highlighting how they are regulated and organised, what labour conditions they offer, and how they are anchored in urban space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-158
JournalCulture and Organization
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020


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