9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN32 Political Sociology

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Governance, Participation and Local Politics Building I, 2E9

Convergences and divergences in the new local social policies: comparing Brussels and Montréal

The territorialization of the public intervention is transforming the decision making all around the world in several aspects. Since the end of the eighties, an increasing number of social and urban public policies in Western countries have targeted poor neighbourhoods of the inner cities. Smaller scales of intervention and concentration of resources are considered to be better tools to maintain social coherence of cities and improve social conditions of the inhabitants of these areas. Bottom up processes are promoted instead of top down decision. A better cooperation between institutional levels of governance and between private and public actors is another condition to improve the treatment of poor areas. These new social policies are oriented by a new paradigm which integrates the principles of governance and mean a transformation of most Welfare State.

The analysis of the implementation of these new social policies in several neighbourhoods of Brussels and Montreal can be very helpful to determine the effective changes in the decision processes. These two cities have very similar social, economical and demographical profiles, but have very different political systems. Both cities have been implementing these new social policies based on a territorialized action since the middle of the nineties. Brussels has a strong consociative tradition which gives a very little space to individual participation. While Montreal has experimented governance and citizenship participation since the sixties. The aim of the comparison is to highlight the differences and the similarities in the composition of the policy networks orientating these public policies and to determine the persistence of policy styles in the two cities and the adaptations that the implementation of these public processes has required. The presentation is based on a qualitative enquiry. Directed interviews and documentary sources are the main data sources used for this presentation.