Analysing local contexts can prove particularly enlightening when it comes to understanding electoral processes, whether in terms of party-political mobilisation or in terms of the choices voters make. In the inner Paris suburbs, as we shall see, voting patterns are very much structured by the geography of social inequalities.
There is a growing interest in voting patterns in periurban areas, which tend to lean to the right or even far right. However, the interpretation of these patterns is often unsatisfactory: Violaine Girard shows that they reflect not a “downgrading” or “relegation”, but rather the profound transformations that have, for several decades, affected the stable fractions of the working classes.
The media construction of the suburbs in France: looking back on the 2007 presidential campaign
Jean Rivière and Sylvie Tissot
In the run-up to the recent French presidential elections, the question of la banlieue – the (generally poor) suburbs that ring every major city in France – barely warranted a mention. In 2007, however, it was a central issue in the election campaign. An analysis of articles in four major national dailies reveals the extent to which the media have helped construct a specific image of the suburbs based on disorder and incivility.
Cités de transit: the urban treatment of poverty during decolonisation
Muriel Cohen and Cédric David
At a time of profound housing crisis in the 1950s, cités de transit were adopted as a means of rehousing Algerian families from cleared bidonvilles. The background of this measure – at the crossroads between colonial legacy, a long history of education through housing, and the Algerian War – explains the enduring stigma associated with it.
Quotas of foreigners in social housing: a legacy of the Algerian War? Les Canibouts, Nanterre (1959–1968)
Was it better to concentrate or disperse Algerians during the Algerian War? In the course of the conflict, both strategies were defended in terms of police action and integration. For Algerians accommodated in standard social housing, dispersal was the preferred solution, justifying the implementation of a quota system limiting the number of foreign residents in each housing complex.
Well-being in the Paris region: widening regional disparities despite overall improvement
Lise Bourdeau-Lepage and Élisabeth Tovar
Has the socio-spatial divide widened over the past 10 years in the Paris region? Using an original method inspired by the work of Amartya Sen to measure the distribution of well-being in the Paris region between 1999 and 2006, Lise Bourdeau-Lepage and Élisabeth Tovar come to a rather pessimistic conclusion: the general rise in well-being actually masks widening regional disparities and setbacks in the northern suburbs of Paris, which are increasingly disadvantaged.
In December 2011 – four years after the launch of Vélib’ – Paris inaugurated Autolib’, the largest system of self-service electric cars in the world. Leaving aside the debate on the economic and technical viability of Autolib’, the development of self-service mobility services has brought with it the increased involvement of large private groups in the production of urban policy, contributing to the privatisation of public spaces and redefining the notion of public service.
The difficulties of housing the Chinese “sandwich class”
Jie Chen and Bernard Vorms
In China, young people from the middle classes are said to belong to a “sandwich class”: they do not have enough resources to buy a property, and yet there are not enough rental properties to accommodate them. In areas where pressure on the property market is particularly high, state benefits fail to compensate a lack of assets.
Shale Gas: Local Democracy vs Central Government
Without local consultation, the French government has granted permission for the exploration of shale gas plays across the whole of France – despite the fact that the debate on the environmental consequences of shale gas production, due to the hydraulic fracturing procedure, has highlighted the risk of a catastrophe in ecological and health-related terms in the areas concerned. Pascal Terrasse, leader of Ardèche departmental council, proposes ways to ensure the voices of areas affected are heard.
Local food: a concrete Utopia
Christian Deverre and Jean-Baptiste Traversac
Roland Vidal recently invited us to look beyond short food-supply chains and rethink local links between cities and agriculture. Here, Christian Deverre and Jean-Baptiste Traversac provide a critical reading of the consequences of changes in farming production methods on the environment and the population.
Participatory urban planning often comes up against the question of scale, with local councillors accepting to delegate a part of their powers in the context of neighbourhood enhancements, but not when it comes to larger-scale projects. Are we condemned to eternally fluctuate between a strong vision of participatory democracy that is limited to small-scale developments and a concept of consultative democracy that is weaker, but able to include large-scale projects?
At a time when major cities are racing to build higher than ever, and when the construction of skyscrapers in France is proving contentious, particularly in ecological and social terms, new problems are emerging in the “old” European metropolises concerning the impact of towers on the landscape. As a result, cities such as London have had to revise their policies regarding the regulation of the skyline in an attempt to respond to these controversies.
Mad Men is often viewed as the ultimate sexist TV series. Through an analysis of the behavior of men and women at work and at home, Nicole Rudolph shows, to the contrary, that this series is instead more an illustration of the failure of men in both places. Is it ushering in the era of women in the contemporary city?
Jerusalem: a history of water
The history of the Holy City is not just one of religious and national conflict. It is also a history of water, a rare and precious commodity in the region, control of which is disputed. In La Soif de Jérusalem (“The Thirst of Jerusalem”), Vincent Lemire recounts this hydrological history and, in the process, develops a stimulating and innovative approach to urban history.
The Triumph of Density and the Agony of Sprawl
Richard C. Ocejo
The city is more and more often hailed as the paradigmatic form of a new sustainable development, both economic and environmental. Glaeser’s book is another significant contribution to this popular awakening. Without contesting the point, Richard Ocejo shows how the arguments put forward in the book may reflect only a partial view of the city, one that misses out on its most important asset: people’s actual practices and experiences.
Modes of urban planning often develop at an accelerated pace during periods of reconstruction. Lebanon in the aftermath of the 2006 war is a case in point. This book is a collection of urban planners’ and academics’ assessments of their own efforts on the ground in Lebanon, where the government’s abdication has allowed Hezbollah to become heavily entrenched locally.
In La ville émiettée, Éric Charmes describes the phenomenon of “clubbisation” in towns and villages in the outer suburbs, where there is a growing tendency to operate exclusivist policies, with the aim of effecting a social selection of inhabitants. Although Charmes’s work raises many issues, it overlooks the diverse range of social and political dynamics that can be found in periurban areas.
From the field
Housing the harkis: long-term segregation
The end of the Algerian War saw the arrival en masse of thousands of pieds-noirs and harkis in mainland France. From the camps of the 1960s to the estates where these repatriated populations were housed until the 1980s, the fate decided for the second of these groups by the “homeland” was one of sustainable segregation.
Transport and urban planning in Rome: an unholy marriage?
Aurélien Delpirou brings a new perspective to the debate initiated by Luis Santos y Ganges. He highlights the fact that urban planning policy alone, even when based on the development of rail infrastructure, does not make for a city. The example of the Italian capital shows that, when it comes to integrated urban development, plans are there only to set the ground rules for a game played by other participants. These plans are confronted with not only the contradictions of sustainable development, but also the inertia of relations between the municipal government and developers.
Are “gay villages” a sign of gentrification? A comparison between the Marais in Paris – an area gentrified before becoming a gay neighbourhood – and the Village in Montreal – more gay than gentrified – reveals differences between gay communities, as well as the relevance of a gender-based analysis of the city.