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Theme 1 – Metropolitan territories confronted to new scalar relations

This research focuses on cities and, more generally, on urban issues. It resolutely falls within the scope of urban studies and involves many interactions between geography and other disciplines: land use planning, sociology, economy or even philosophy. One of the major inputs of the UMR Géographie-cités is its position at the juncture between the studies of the structures which organise urban spaces (real estate, housing, business, employment, etc.) on the one hand, and the studies of practices and representations of stakeholders in general (elected representatives and administrations, firms, associations, citizens, etc.) on the other hand.

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Faubourg St-Denis dans le 10e arrondissement de Paris
© Antoine Fleury

Our ongoing studies are based on the following assessment. Just as the local level is reinforced within cities (local development policies, social mobilisations, etc.), they are increasingly interconnected (individual mobilities, partnerships, circulation of models of land use planning, etc) at a macro-regional and even global level. The development of these ties is accompanied by the generalised competition between territories in a context of globalisation and of post-fordist transition, cities striving by all means to remain or to become attractive for investors, tourists or even wealthy inhabitants. We state the hypothesis that these multiple and often unequal scalar relations which are found in cities and which they often maintain between them and other territories, have nowadays become the main factor for change in urban and metropolitan spaces.

We will look into three dimensions which are in line with previous works.

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Aéroport de Zurich
© Antoine Fleury

The first field of investigation focuses on mobilities and migrations. Compared to the past four years, we have extended our research to all mobilities. The issue is to articulate the different forms of mobility, considered in terms of motives, period of time, frequency or even individual’s profiles (gender and social position). We wish to demonstrate how these mobilities and these migrations, which are deployed at all spatial scales, contribute to reconfiguring metropolitan territories and their patterns of production.

The second field of investigation deals with the access to the city. We want to continue and renew the works on segregation processes in metropolitan spaces by questioning more specifically inequalities in access to urban resources (schools, health facilities, shops, public transport, etc) and to other types of urban resources like public spaces.

The third field concerns urban governance. We deal with changes in urban governance in terms of the transformations they imply in the organisation of metropolitan spaces. Compared to works already completed, we focus on the new scalar relationships which structure this interaction between governance and territories (competition and/or coordination between political-administrative levels, circulation of models between metropolises, etc) and on their impacts on urban forms as well as on city practices.

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Santa Monica, Californie
© Antoine Fleury
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Quartier du Val d’Europe à Marne-la-Vallée
© Antoine Fleury

Whether they deal with one dimension or another, an important part of our research continues to deal with European cities and metropolises. These cities are transformed, on the one hand, by the processes of globalisation and European integration and, on the other hand, by the increasing decentralisation of nation states and the rise of local territories. We also use comparison as a key dimension of our research: comparison between European cities (Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Rome, Naples) as well as comparison between European cities and other world metropolises (Los Angeles, New York, Montreal, Cape Town). The multiplication of links between metropolises makes the comparative approach particularly relevant and is consistent with the necessity to grasp processes at different levels.

Persons in charge: Sandrine Berroir, Antoine Fleury, Renaud Le Goix

Updated on : 6 May 2015


Géographie-cités 2011, All rights reserved