Addressing Real World Issues
Edited by Robert Stimson and Kingsley E. Haynes
Chapter 16: Helping community groups to address urban planning issues in a deprived gipsy neighbourhood: geographical experiences from Perpignan in a post-riot context
A body of research has emerged regarding action-oriented geographies within social geography (Pain, 2003). Since Kitchin and Hubbard’s editorial in Area (1999), many examples of action-oriented social geographies have been aired. Most occur in the field of neighbourhood planning, helping local communities to address social, urban, economic or even sometimes political issues. If the place of action-oriented English and North American social geographies seems to be of some importance regarding ethic, methodological and theorical debate, this question is also deeply rooted in the French social geography (Baudelle, 2006) which historically has been built in action, and still claims a strong linkage between theory, fieldworks and participatory researches (Vieillard-Baron, 2005). However, there is a lack of consideration for applied geography in the French academic geographies which focus much more on theory debates, giving little attention to applied research (Bailly, 1998). A few French social geographers have conducted research explicitly concerning engagement with individuals, groups or community (Séchet and Veschambre, 2006). One explanation may be found in the more general habit of French geographers since the 1970s to consider applied geography exclusively in an institutional perspective (Bailly, 1998). A long tradition of actionoriented geographies has continued since that time with collaboration with national and local authorities in many fields: planning, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), economic and territorial forecasts, and so on. This established tradition tends to associate applied geography and institutional cooperation in an exclusive way. A second explanation may be traced in French geographers’ reluctance to address community issues.
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