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Numéro 110
septembre 2015

Ville et vulnérabilités

Christoph Reinprecht et Julia Dahlvik

The article explores the effects and limits of home visits as a strategy to reduce vulnerability among immigrants in Vienna (Austria). This intervention aims to create a relay between the target population and the urban environment that can be seen both as a sphere of (in particular social) resources, and threatened by poverty and social exclusion. Based on a qualitative and participatory field research which was part of an international comparative research project, the article asks when, how and for how long such an intervention can stop the process of vulnerability. Our central hypothesis is that home visits are exposed to a logic of (re)production of vulnerabilities, due to mechanisms which interfere within the interactions during the home visits, and which impair the strategy of empowerment. The phenomena identified as characteristic for the investigated situations are the paradox of proximity, non-recognition and volunteer visitors strategies of informalisation, affecting the capacity to link up bridging ties and community social capital.

Michel Joubert et Chantal Mougin

Analysis of an associative approach taken on a city in Seine-Saint-Denis, particularly affected by poverty. Initially focused on school tutoring, the action has been gradually extended to insertion, leisure and conviviality. Through an innovative approach in welcoming and listening, it has developed mediation actions, family support, youth insertion, health promotion, recreational activities and prevention from risk behaviours, all within an innovative approach developing links and cultural exchange, etc. In the community, besides this plurality of actions, social workers perform a substantive work focused on the development of people resources and abilities to act (recognition, empowerment). We tried to understand the bases and values of their action to reduce social vulnerabilities. Their very singularity and unconventional ways of working raise possible alternatives for social action.

Isabelle Maillard

This article analyses an experimental housing program for homeless crack users. Context analysis of this initiative, make appear a recurring theme in public health actions : crises phases within the health and social care sector create possibilities for experimentation that fall outside the usual institutional conditions for action. Conceived as a transitional space through which the reduction of vulnerability is accomplished through empowering people, changes appear in interpersonal skills, values and motivations of the social workers. However, the contradictions and dilemmas related to the lack of change on the part of institutions and the challenges of working with people with significant vulnerabilities raise issues of their own vulnerability, undermining the anticipated changes.

Elodie Jouve et Pascale Pichon

At the junction of social and urban issues, this paper offers a comprehensive approach of health vulnerability. The interdependence between social care and health care in France shows the consecration of a model of management of the poor through emergency. By linking different levels of analysis (structural, institutional and interactional), the borderline situation of homeless people allows the highlight and the critic of different aspects of urban hospitality and residential mobility within housing institutions. Many situations observed in a comparative and ethnographic way show how the right to housing is still withdrawn from the current public policies.

Pascale Baligand

This article explores the relationship between space and subjectivity on the basis of several interviewes of asylum seekers. Throughout these interviewes, we noticed the coincidence between a psychic disorientation and a fragmentation of space. This coincidence will be analyzed following the three steps in the routes of asylum seekers : the growing danger of war in the country of origin, the migration itself, and the arrival in the country of refuge and the waiting for the award of refugee status.

Mathilde Costil et Elise Roche

This paper aims at analyzing the treatment of residential vulnerability by comparing slum relocation schemes in the 1960s and the 2000s. We seek to understand the links between some episodes of extension of the area of vulnerability and processes of urban transformation in both urgent and provisional forms. We show a certain continuity in slum relocation processes, wich are characterized by their tentative and precarious nature, dedicated to an identified population, and managed by specific actors. It shows the relationship between residential vulnerability and an intermediate urbanity.

Erwan Le Méner, Nicolas Oppenchaim

Living in subsidized hotels exposes homesless families to residential instability and frequent moves, to cities that can be relunctant to taking care of them. Most children living in subsidized hotels do however go to school. Based on studies of the greater Paris regions, this article looks into the consequences of residential instability on schooling. Their access to school is hindered by frequent moves and the length of daily commutes from the hotel. Schooling remains an essential resource to face daily difficulties due to the residential vulnerability of homeless families. School can be understood as a constant in the otherwise chaotic lives of homeless families.

Florence Bouillon, Sandrine Musso, Johanna Lees, Suzanne de Cheveigné

This article is centered around an ethnographic study of fuel poverty carried out between 2007 and 2012 in the city of Marseilles, France. We first analyze the way the notion emerged as a category of public action in France and rapidly compare this trajectory to the British case, where the notion appeared about 30 years earlier. We then consider the way it has impacted the activity of social worker and other “front-line” actors. Finally, we describe the situation from the point of view of the families living in conditions of fuel poverty, analyzing both their difficulties and their tactics for survival. In the French context, speaking of fuel poverty can be seen as using a new and somewhat euphemistic expression for referring to old problems related to poverty and poor housing. Its appearance in the public arena nevertheless provides an opportunity to link questions concerning social and environmental inequality that have long been approached separately both by the social sciences and by public authorities.

Nadine Roudil

This article focuses on the living conditions of poor households in social housing. We investigate how their current practices to deal with economic difficulties help them develop skills and self-confidence. In this context, we aim to examine how the French discourse on fuel poverty can discredit household mobilisation of ways of doing and user knowledge to cope with economic constraints. Instructions to change their habits and government advice on energy consumption challenge their legitimacy to implement their own methods of tackling difficulties despite their having assimilated them as helpful in their daily struggle against poverty.

Gaspard Lion

The objective of this study is to show how the tent and cabin dwellers of the Bois de Vincennes on the outskirts of Paris, living in conditions of great precariousness, organize themselves so as to make themselves feel at home. This type of precarious situation, in which “being-at-home” (chez-soi) takes on minimal and fragile forms, reveals fundamental aspects of “inhabiting”. The ethnographic approach makes it possible to analyze the three dimensions of the emergence of the feeling of being-at-home : intimacy, appropriation and anchorage.

Rémi Baudouï

After the attacks of the 09/11 European authorities have questioned which role should play cities in the prevention of terrorism. In France, the fight against terrorism is old. It’s responsibility of national authorities, not local authorities. The purpose of this article is to measure the nature of institutional and administrative gap that justify the French cities can’t enter now in the security paradigm. To do this, we adopt the constructivist analysis in political science.

Judith Audin

Since the end of the work unit (danwei) system, the evolution of social practices goes with the transformation of urban organisation in China. This process leads to the separation between the workplace and the residential space, and to the reform of social welfare from public work units to city administrations. Located at the local level in the neighbourhood, the residents’ committee (jumin weiyuanhui) transforms in the context of the “neighbourhood community” (shequ jianshe) reform. This Maoist organisation is now in charge of managing the population and take care of the “vulnerable groups” (ruoshi qunti). Resulting from the social and spatial evolution of city life, the administration system developed social work based on the urban neighbourhood.

Béatrice Quenault

Within the actual context of growing disasters in urban spaces, the manner to look at the management/evaluation of natural/anthropogenic risks has progressively evolved to give a central place to the concept of vulnerability. In the meanwhile, this notion has undergone a substantial conceptual enlargement of its meaning within both academic and operational thinking. This article starts with underlying the growing institutional and academic focus put on this concept to analyze urban risks, in particular those linked with climate change. Secondly, it explores the diverse meanings and uses of this multidisciplinary concept which, consequently, appears to be quite a fuzzy notion.

Daniel Florentin

A large crisis is affecting some European Large Technical Systems such as water networks. Drastic diminutions in water consumption levels are challenging a system mainly based on continual growth. This leads to manifold technical and management issues such as oversized infrastructures, and creates a form of infrastructural vulnerability. The analysis of a German case, in the Magdeburg area, will help us deconstructing the different features of this infrastructural vulnerability. We will also present its various social and spatial effects and the innovative answers, may they be technical or spatial, that have been developed by the different utilities to diminish the scope of such vulnerability.

Dominique Meva’a Abomo, Martin Fouda, Boris Siméon Nguehan, Achille Armand Ebana, Gyscard Merlin Pola

The vulnerability of urban agriculture to flood in the Mbanya drainage basin is studied in this multi-disciplinary research between crops destruction and social reaction. The research methodology is articulated to approach of semi-quantitative analyze of vulnerability. The data have been obtained from field observation, quota sample and semi-direct interviews. Finally, the vulnerability of urban agriculture is controlled by a mechanic interaction between flood, damaging of crops and divergent social responses in the space of study. This interaction perpetually configures and reconfigures the spatial and seasonal variations of vulnerability. The intervention of public and municipal powers, the implication of civil society and the reinforcement of farmers capacities are been presented as important options to experiment.

Séverine Durand

This case study illustrates the typical ambivalence between attractiveness and vulnerability of French coastal territories. The field is a suburban neighbourhood built in wetlands, which remains vulnerable to flash floods. Nevertheless, it is very attractive because of the conveniences it offers. Within natural hazards management, structural approaches that have so far dominated have shown theirs limits. Policy now focuses on prevention. However, through this case study analysis and its history, we notice a continuity of the willingness to control natural elements ; even if today, it is through an ecological modernization approach.

Ute Dubois

This article analyses the specificities of urban fuel poverty in France. As urban fuel poverty can take various forms, it is difficult to measure. Indicators like budget shares dedicated to energy are not well suited to evaluate the extent of urban fuel poverty. Therefore, it has been underestimated and the urban fuel poor were initially not targeted by the national thermal refurbishment programme “Habiter mieux”. However, the urban fuel poor do benefit to a larger extent than their rural counterparts from local energy assistance schemes. Recent analyses in terms of “energy vulnerability” are a useful complement to more static approaches in terms of fuel poverty. They could be used to improve the targeting of policies towards the most vulnerable people and areas. In urban environments, young households, unemployed people and very low income households appear particularly vulnerable.

Mickaël Blanchet

In a context of growth of older people in town, the ageing policies based theirs actions on individual level to address the failures of ageing (transition to retirement, widowhood, decline in physiological capacity…). But the territorialization of this process resulting used competitive sector and register answers. This orientation was strongest in the city and resulted in specialization and diversification of supply in the city. However, this economic regulation led to graduate socially and spatially supply toward the elderly, between research productivity toward the elderly with the welfare-economic position and capacity for the vulnerable elderly. Contrary to the stated policy objectives, the old policies develop inequalities which question on current and future construction of ageing in cities.

Mariantonia Lo Prete

Urban spaces adjacent to ports are vulnerable : the layout and use of ports present a threat to the living conditions of inhabitants. This threat is evident through the study of litigation dealt with through the courts. Our study, which was carried out using a geo-legal matrix analysing 47 disputes in 16 French and Italian Mediterranean ports between 1998 and 2010, reveals the towns’ environmental vulnerability. Thus, the study shows that the judge becomes a fondamental party in the relationship between the city and the port.