Metropolitan planning and urban minorities “on the move”. A transnational perspective on integration patterns

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Planning traditions in European countries have generally either ignored settlement patterns of underprivileged migrating populations or tried to control them through imposed settlement actions or population redistribution (Desage et al., 2014). Urban integration of immigrants or of poor nationals in a migration situation (such as rural population attracted by employment opportunities in the city or returning expatriates from former colonies, etc.) has been generally addressed by providing specific or standard public housing or by implementing social mix policies. In this paper we address integration patterns by focusing on the characteristics of a “welcoming” territory or its “hospitality”, i.e. a territory that offers opportunities for integration and that showcases its social diversity. We further question the importance of morphologic configurations of metropolization and of governance arrangements characteristic of metropolitan planning for successful incorporation. New comers to the city claim space and make place. In regard to these processes, we ask several questions: what settlement and place-making patterns of migrants, chosen or imposed, are associated with metropolization in different world contexts? Can suburbanization be considered an advantage for integrating a new population, and under what conditions? How do city and suburban administrations, be they fragmented or federated in metropolitan governance institutions, respond to these processes of settlement? In order to address these questions and see how metropolitan urban areas can use take advantage of their suburban morphology and of immigration we have studied U.S. examples of successful “gateway” metropolises of the 21st century. The choice of the North American example was based on the fact that morphological characteristics of metropolization have their origins in the U.S. and that we find in the American scientific literature successful stories of immigrants’ incorporation that contribute to economic and territorial development. In addition to the US theoretical model we have studied two contrasting European cases of metropolitan pilot projects concerning immigrant and minority integration: that of Grenoble, in France, and of Cluj, in Romania. These two very different contexts in Western and Eastern Europe are put together here in regard to integration patterns of a similar population, impoverished Romanian in majority of Roma ethnicity. Highly excluded from the labor market and from formal housing, suffering discrimination and marginalization in Romania (Vincze, 2015), they are low-skilled and very poor immigrants in search of a better life. In France they often live, at least for a period of time, in very harsh living conditions in improvised and informal settlements such as slums and squats, from which they are often evicted. In regard to this population, we give here the term “minority” a wide meaning that reflects not only a quantitative difference from the “majority” based on objective and/or subjective criteria, but especially a dominated position due to social and economic exclusion, and to forms of marginality (such as informal or illegal occupations and housing). We focus on the movement of these populations, chosen – such as their economic migration to western Europe – or imposed – such as resettlement after forced evictions – that makes them “new comers” with low resources in a territory where they aim to settle and make a living. In the American literature on migrations and cities, different types of immigrants (high and low skilled, with high and low human and social capital, etc.) are considered together as complementary in their settling and integration patterns. However, the different examples show that generally highly skilled workers have always been more easily integrated, whereas “poorer and less-skilled immigrants – who are often the backbone of the service economy – have met more resistance” (Singer et. al., 2008: 155).
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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