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Research Orientations   


  • Social interactions, ways of life, and urban mobility
  • Urban form and urban mobility

Within this axis, our investigations will be grouped into two major orientations.The first deals with the relationships between and the simultaneous evolution of ways of life, the organisation of work, and individual mobility patterns. The second questions more specifically the co-productive relationship between urban form and individual mobility. In considering the orientation of recent political mechanisms (notably the Solidarity and Urban Renewal Law, or loi SRU), our work will additionally deal with the influence of urban development policies on mobility and automobile dependence, as well as the economic and social pertinence of the regulation of car use.

Social interactions, ways of life, and urban mobility

Changes in professional rhythms as well as progress and diversification in the use of information and communications technologies reveal a significant change in lifestyles, which are more individualised and “flexible” today than before. Work, which has always contributed powerfully to the synchronisation of social life, now contributes to its de-synchronisation. Other rhythms, such as those of education, leisure, vacation, or family and social life, participate in this vast re-composition of social movements. These changes, as well as the increased presence of women in the workforce and the possibilities offered by new telecommunications technologies, are potential factors in the changing role of physical mobility, automobile access, work, and lifestyle.

In advancing the hypothesis that the conditions of mobility (price, available transportation modes) and the aptitude or ability of individuals to get about are determining factors in the context of a rapid evolution of lifestyles and employment, our work will strive to formalise and understand, at the individual level, the establishment of new types of relationships to time and space as well as the creation of inequalities between individuals.

We begin this research with the conviction that upstream approaches are necessary, as they alone will permit a reformulation of the determiners of individual mobility. It is therefore necessary to examine this social and productive reorganisation beside and in relation with the goals that it serves.

During the period 2005-2008, we will examine more specifically :

- The reorganisation of work and of working conditions for those employed in the service sector, notably in personal services such as the post or electricity for which flexibility of service supply and constant accessibility for clients are key. We will use an approach which permits us to shed light on the issue of changes in lifestyle, and on the resulting role for mobility in the lives of these employees. Particular attention will be paid to mobility carried out within the context of work (i.e. professional mobility).
- Individual mobility practices and their roles, based on a reading of detailed personal schedules drawn from the INSEE time use survey (2000). This survey associates these schedules with a very detailed description of the populations in question and their contexts (notably details concerning their work).
- Capacities and strategies for personal movement will be examined in two different contexts : that of employees subjected to new work organisation constraints and that of populations which must navigate unknown urban spaces (e.g. tourists).

This research will combine approaches drawn from family, work, and mobility behaviour sociology.

Urban form and urban mobility

This orientation will formalize the relationships between the social and spatial forms of urban growth, the conditions of mobility, and urban mobility. The “conditions of mobility” are here understood in the general sense, referring to transportation network structure, the individual costs of mobility, and the social value assigned to mobility. The empirical analyses will be conducted on the Paris, Lyon, and Bordeaux metropolitan regions.

Three research themes have been chosen

- The first examines the socio-spatial forms of urban growth (residential and workplace urban sprawl, the appearance of secondary employment centres, and socio-spatial segregation phenomena) in relation with the changes in accessibility by car and public transit determined by the transportation systems in place. We will characterise the temporal and spatial distance between different urban functions using a disaggregated socio-professional approach, and we will test the hypothesis that mobility is generally polarized by places of employment.

- The second is situated within the still largely unresolved debate on urban form (e.g. the compact city, the polycentic city, the multipolarised city). Our objective here is to develop another concept of the city which permits us to move beyond the debate between the compact city and sprawl : that of the “coherent city”. It depends less on a morphological approach (as is the case for the others) than on a functional one : making the habitat, employment, and service functions of the city coherent, and thus permitting the resident access to each of them in less than x minutes of public transport, assuring a « diversified offer of employment and services » independent of the morphology of the city. Coherent city schemas for the metropolitan regions of Paris and Lyon will be created, which will then be subjected to an analysis of the regulatory potential that they in the debate between urban form and sustainable development.

- The third examines the localization of urban actors, relative to the performance of networks, the capacity of these actors to situate themselves in space, and their access to different transportation modes. We will deal with the residential choice process of Parisian region households, as well as the residential and daily mobility choices of employees, with the goal of determining the role of accessibility in the distancing of households from urban functions.

This research will combine approaches drawn from the socio-economics of transportation, urban planning, and urban economics.