L’Espace géographique 4/02

Without summaries

An understanding of the Paris basin through commuting (1 tabl., 8 fig.)

In a region changing as fast as Greater Paris, particularly the edge of the metropolitan area, the figures from the last census may answer some interesting questions. Is the conurbation expanding? Is the city evolving towards a monocentric or a polycentric configuration? We look at commuting in the whole Parisian basin in order to understand how the huge metropolitan area interacts with its immediate surrounding area and with the other cities in the basin.

If the past decade has seen a reduction of a trend that emerged in the early 1980s, the city continues to spread, and it is now extending to larger urban centres. There seems to be a reorganisation of the edge of the metropolitan area around these secondary centres, which is producing two kinds of fringe. The first, the closest to Paris, has simply become part of the metropolitan area. Most of its residents and workers now live and work in the urban area and a hierarchy is emerging between these centres. The second is not yet part of the metropolitan area, even if many of its residents are commuting to the city. This pattern is common around Paris. It is observed in almost all the large cities of the basin. The regional metropolitan centres attract and shape the region they belong to, while developing increasing links with Paris. Since there are few cross-links between the different regions of the Parisian basin, it still has a monocentric configuration: Paris interacts with all the main cities of the regions surrounding the capital region, while these cities shape their local areas.


Jean-Christophe FRANÇOIS. Avoidance of local secondary schools and social divisions in the Paris school space (11 tabl., 3 fig.)

Pupils entering the sixth grade in France are usually allocated to a public secondary school on the basis of their residential address. Some families use various strategies to avoid sending their children to the local school. This paper seeks to measure the effects of this avoidance on social divisions in the Paris city school space. The first observation is that the rate of avoidance varies considerably according to social category, with the most advantaged avoiding more. In contrast, the approval rate for applications for exemption in Paris is unrelated to the social category of the applicants. The paper then shows that school avoidance significantly reinforces the social division of Paris, at different geographical levels. However, the consequences of this avoidance on the social mix, measured in terms of probability of contact between students from different social categories, seem fairly limited at this stage. Lastly, explanatory components for this avoidance are sought in both the social and the geographical contexts.


Gated communities in Los Angeles. Place and prospects of a different kind of real estate product. (2 tabl., 5 fig.)

Gated communities are residential neighbourhoods with restricted access where public space has been privatised. Because they are managed as private corporations and are pushing for a form of political independence, they are divisive projects that accentuate social segregation. Indeed, they generate not only physical, but also social discontinuity within the city. Los Angeles and its surrounding areas have been chosen as the location for this study, because of the expansion of gated communities in the Sun Belt. This paper first qualifies the different locations of gated communities on the scale of Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. The nature of the discontinuity produced by the communities in comparison with the neighbouring areas is assessed through a study of property values (assessed values and real-estate values). These communities form spaces where property values are different and more homogeneous than in the surrounding neighbourhood. Through governance by private contract, the gated communities also work to protect real-estate investments from market fluctuations.


Social and spatial integration in the Katowice region, Poland (4 tabl., 1 fig.)

The example of the Katowice region is particularly interesting because it is a case in which it is very difficult to distinguish between social and spatial integration, which are linked in a particularly complex historical process. For example, in a survey of the local perception of the neighbouring communities by primary school pupils of about 14 years of age from the town of Myslowice (Rykiel 1985), it appeared that the psychological barrier between Upper Silesia and the rest of the Katowice region (the Dabrowa Basin and West Cracovian District) was related to both the social background (the territorial origin of the family) and the territorial effect (residence in Upper Silesia). Indeed, the negative perception of the towns of the Dabrowa Basin by the inhabitants of Upper Silesia was also present in the generation of newcomers who adopted the local attitude and thus contributed to reinforcing and reproducing the psychological barrier.

An empirical application to the evolution of intermarriage in the Katowice region was used to attempt to demonstrate that measuring social/spatial integration is highly complex because: the concepts used to define integration are unclear; the historical and cultural background of the Katowice region is fairly complex; and the availability of data limits the field of potential investigation.


Investigating territory through images: applying the concept of “series” to scientific work with photographs (1 tabl., 2 fig., 1 encadré)

Photography is a particularly rich documentary source for geography, which can draw on an abundance of images to refine its understanding of a territory. When decoded for scientific work, photographs are related to reality as a space of comprehension that gives them meaning. To complement this conventional approach and to take into account the multiplicity of images in a collection, assuming that their co-presence makes sense, I have attempted to show how a photographic series can constitute a reference in itself, framing the information and signification of each individual shot. This paper thus seeks to show the specific nature of the image as object, to describe the concept of “series”, which complements and intersects with a thematic interpretation of the images, and to demonstrate its applications for scientific work. A series can be a way to understand a collection of photographs, a method of interpretation that shows up the internal consistencies and structures of the collection. This type of analysis, which allows for such a recomposition of space, is so lacking to geographers in thematic classifications.


Book reviews

In this issue of L’Espace géographique, you will find critical reviews of the following books

BOURDIER Marc, PELLETIER Philippe, dir. (2000). L’Archipel accaparé. La question foncière au Japon. Paris: Édition de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 310 p.

CHAPOULIE Jean-Michel (2001). La Tradition sociologique de Chicago, 1892-1961. Paris: Le Seuil, 491 p.

DI MEO Guy (2001). La Géographie en fêtes. Gap: Ophrys, coll. «Geophrys», 270 p.

GANDY Matthew (2002). Concrete and Clay: reworking nature in New York City. Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press, 344 p.

GHORRA-GOBIN Cynthia (2000). Les États-Unis entre local et mondial. Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, coll. «Références inédites», 288 p.

GLACKEN Clarence J. (2000). Histoire de la pensée géographique. Paris: CTHS (traduction de Traces on the rhodian shore, 1967).

HARLEY J.B. (2001). The New Nature of Maps. Essays in the History of Cartography. Baltimore et Londres: The John Hopkins University Press, 334 p. (édité par P. LAXTON, avec une introduction de J.H. ANDREWS).

PHILIPPE Jean, LEO Pierre-Yves, BOULIANNE Louis-M. (1998). Services et métropoles: formes urbaines et changement économique. Paris: L’Harmattan, 300 p.

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Last modified: November 4, 2002