Crowdfunding cities: Social entrepreneurship, speculation and solidarity in Berlin

Paul Langley, Sue Lewis, Colin McFarlane, Joe Painter, Antonis Vradis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Situated at the intersection of urban and economic geography, this paper develops and illustrates a three-step research agenda to further critical understanding of relations between crowdfunding and cities. First, we explore how crowdfunding is enrolled in shifting programmes of urban governance that valorize entrepreneurship in North America and Europe in particular. When invoked in urban governance, crowdfunding is increasingly the ‘go to’ method for mobilizing the cash, capital and collective enthusiasm necessary for social entrepreneurship and civic renewal in cities. Second, we offer a situated, qualitative case study account of crowdfunding in Berlin. In contrast with existing research, we show how a specific urban context contributes to shaping the distinctive crowdfunding ecologies that emerge in a city. Third, we interrogate the multiplicity and diversity of crowdfunding-city relations, identifying and analyzing three distinctive ecologies that have emerged to date in Berlin. While crowdfunding is indeed enabling social entrepreneurship in particular ways in Berlin, it also contributes to capitalizing speculation in booming real-estate developments and facilitates the solidarity economies of community groups and charities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
Early online date29 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jun 2020


  • Crowdfunding
  • Urban governance
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Real-estate speculation
  • Solidarity economies


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