Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

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Structural Transformations and Everyday Spatial Consequences in Austerity Ireland: An Embedded Comparative Approach

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Abstract:  Urban research often focuses on aggregate characteristics of macroeconomic performances or in-depth case studies of everyday urban phenomena. However, this dichotomy risks alienating two perspectives that can constructively illuminate spatial developments together. This article extends the “political economy of everyday life” approach, borrowed from political economy, to connect the local and everyday to global structures. The aim is to make this perspective sensitive to geographic differences and develop a “spatial political economy of everyday life.” To operationalise this approach, I discuss the multi-scale analysis employed in a comparative project on austerity and urban youth in Ireland that sought to ground everyday consequences in a structural context. This project combined three methods: (a) a theoretical analysis of the global structures of the 2008 financial crisis, (b) a policy analysis of the impact of Irish austerity policies on youth, and (c) a comparative qualitative analysis of the everyday consequences of crisis and austerity on youth from disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Cork and Dublin. This embedded comparative approach identified how the global financial crisis shaped national policies and how geographic differences shaped everyday spatial and personal consequences. This embedded comparative approach conceptualises cities as places where the structural and everyday constitute each other. It illuminates how this mutual interaction creates spatial particularities and common trends. In doing so, an embedded comparative approach contributes to developing a “spatial political economy of everyday life.”

Keywords:  austerity; comparative urbanism; deprivation; embedded comparative approach; everyday life; Ireland; neighbourhoods; political economy of everyday life; urban geography; young adults



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© Sander van Lanen. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.