Best Paper of a young scholar 2018 goes to Michael A. Strebel from Switzerland

The European Urban Research Association gives a young scholar award for emerging scholars whose work exemplifies outstanding scholarship in urban affairs. The winner is Michael A Strebel, Department of Political Science, University of Zürich. The awarded paper is entitled “Who Supports Metropolitan Reform? Citizens’ Attitudes in Four West European Countries” The paper has been presented in Track 1 “Citizenship in city and region; changing patterns of civic attachment?” of the annual EURA Conference in Tilburg. Michael receives a 1.000 Euro honorarium. The honorarium is a travel grant that will allow the winner to participate at the next UAA conference (Los Angeles) or the joined EURA/UAA City Futures conference in Dublin in June 2019.


Keywords: Public Opinion, Metropolitan Governance, Political Integration, Survey Research

In this paper, I analyze public opinion on political integration reforms in metropolitan areas, i.e. citizens’ attitudes towards the unification of local jurisdictions in city-regions. I make three distinct contributions. First, for the explanation of these attitudes, I apply theories on public opinion towards political integration in the international realm to the metropolitan context. Based in these theories, I distinguish utilitarian, ideational, and cognitive motivations to support or oppose metropolitan reforms. Second, I propose a new measure for citizens’ orientations towards metropolitan reforms, consisting of attitudes towards inter-municipal taxbase sharing, consolidation, inter-municipal cooperation, and the introduction of a metropolitan government. Third, I analyze data from a unique population-based online-survey administered on 5,000 respondents from eight metropolitan areas in France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom in 2015. The empirical analysis suggests that support for metropolitan integration is contingent on sociopsychological rather than utilitarian considerations. Respondents identifying predominantly with their municipality and supporters of right-wing populist parties are skeptical of metropolitan reforms. Moreover, citizens who are more exposed to metropolitan issues hold more favorable opinions towards metropolitan reforms and they extrapolate their support for metropolitan reforms from their trust in local government. By contrast, economic self-interest and pocketbook issues are not associated with metropolitan integration support. These findings indicate that attitudes towards political integration hinge on similar factors – irrespective of the territorial scale at which the integration processes take place.