Varieties of right-sizing strategies

Un article sur les coalitions de décroissance dans les villes en déclin françaises, pré-publié dans la revue Urban Geography (Special Issue: The Political Economy of Right-Sizing / Editors: Manuel Aalbers et Matthias Bernt)

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This article attempts to understand the varieties of “rightsizing” strategies in French shrinking cities. Empirically, the article examines the issue of “rightsizing” in France. It reveals that urban shrinkage is still considered as a minor issue nationally, and that “rightsizing” ideas have not gained momentum on urban agendas or within the planning community. Despite this lack of interest, local strategies aimed at adapting the built environment to a reduced population have been “silently” implemented in France’s shrinking cities, over the last 15 years. The article focuses on the strategies elaborated in two cities: Saint-Etienne and Vitry-le-François. These strategies are both emblematic of an acceptation of population decline and of a will to reduce the housing stock. However, these two strategies rely on different actors and rationalities: the first is based on a selective understanding of “rightsizing” which aims at replacing deprived social groups by a long-awaited middle-class; the second is fueled by the worsening financial situation of the main social housing landlords. By pinpointing the factors that explain varieties of “rightsizing” strategies, the article calls for a more careful use of the notion of austerity urbanism, based on case studies which are sensitive to contextual issues.