Social mix and neighbourhood revitalization

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Summary

A reoccurring problem of urban social policy and urban planning is ‘social mix’ - or how and at what spatial scale of residence can groups of different socio-economic status co-exist comfortably, in the face of housing market dynamics and residential choices of wealthy groups that tend to reinforce social differentiation of residential space. However, some of these policy objectives are based on premises strongly criticized in the literature. Others are highly dependent on the specific national and local contexts in which they were initially elaborated.

This project is an international collaboration on both social mix policies and experiences which unites a team of researchers: two French (Housing Research Center, UMR LOUEST, CNRS), two British (Centre for Urban Studies, University of Bristol) and two Canadians (Urbanization, Culture and Society, INRS). Our goal is to create a mode of collaboration making it possible to cross both national and linguistic barriers. This will involve implementing the same line of questioning and elaborating a generalisable research protocol, and further, testing this protocol through a pilot project in three central districts of three cities - in Montreal : Hochelaga-Maisionneuve; in Paris : La Goutte d’Or; in Bristol : Easton. All are considered as very disadvantaged, yet they possess a strong associative fabric and have traditions of community organization.

Methods include - analysis of documentary sources; semi-structured interviews (with local authority and partnership officials, community group leaders, neighbourhood business leaders, and key specialist informants); and direct observation to identify the locations of various types of cohabitation and of public sociability in a diversity of places.

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