The Politique de la Ville, grounded on an idea of equality that has not yet withdrawn despite economic downturns and political turnovers, was launched in the late 1970s, aiming at reducing territorial inequalities within disadvantaged neighbourhoods (Quartiers en crise) built after the Second World War. Ever since, several challenging generations of the “Politique de la Ville” have been set up addressing the specific domain of housing and urban environment and more general issues in employment, health, law and order, security and urban services. Their sphere of influence has gradually enlarged, interacting at the municipal level with by-law requirements to achieve 20% of social housing. In large urban areas, these issues are entrusted to the so-called Schémas de Cohérence territoriale (SCOTs), inter-municipal master-plans intended to manage sectoral policies related to real estate, public transportation and environment. Within the SCOTs, the challenge of inclusion is met both by a dilution of social housing estates located in the banlieues even through radical demolitions and reconstructions, and by infill practices of social dwellings in downtown areas. As for the governance model, the contract option (Contrat de Ville) issuing from private sector is increasingly shaping complex relationships among State, regions and municipalities as an aftermath of the administrative decentralization reform in the early 1980s: the local stage cuts across municipal elected officials and citizens, bringing about new routines based on reciprocal confidence. In this “tournant épistémologique”, the juxtaposition between advocates of comprehensive legitimacy (law and universal suffrage, but also technical knowledge and expertise), and supporters of a flexible right, or “negotiated law”, has been crucial. The action research processes led by individuals working with others in teams or as part of a “community of practice” have been from the very beginning strongly supported by enlightened civil servants, bureaucrats and “modernist” practitioners. Among the “Métiers de la Ville”, the “Chef de Projet” stands out as a mediator, facilitator and manager often coming from previous local militant experiences.
Palazzo, A.L. (2012). "Politique de la Ville" e "Projets de territoire". URBANISTICA, 149(gennaio-giugno), 4-7.