Advanced search
Start date

CoPolis - social co-production of the city and citizen science: a comparative perspective on working class and precarious neighbourhoods in France and in Brazil


Scientific, political and operational approaches to the challenges of sustainable development in cities are mostly technological. At the same time that governance increasingly promotes official citizen participation, alternatives planning experiences are multiplying, especially in precarious urban areas, as well as urban co-production practices that bring together civil society, universities and professionals, often supported by public institutions. These initiatives bring fundamental social innovationstowards sustainability, especially in the most disadvantaged contexts, where the official practises haven't achieved global and real participations. More than technologies, CoPolis emphasizes the importance of cooperation tools and processes that aim for sustainable development. Cooperative practices make it possible to go beyond certain cleavages between civil society, professionals and, to a certain extent, governments, in contexts where vulnerable urban communities increasingly depend on the need for debate and to be heard, to gain influencing public decisions. Practices of social and democratic innovation that explore alternatives that aim at reducing socio-spatial inequalities. France and Brazil are countries that have a long history of cooperation and community action in popular or precarious neighborhoods where the most discriminated populations live. This project explores the potential of co-production - with collective and interinstitutional action involving the university as an organizing and mediating agent - to adapt urban interventions to sustainability issues in terms of reducing social and environmental vulnerabilities, building governance democratic empowerment, empowerment communities and cognitive effects of co-production knowledge. The project includes the critical evaluation of these practices, processes and impasses in specific cases of study in Brazil and France, understanding their impacts on civil society, the third sector and on the production of urban planning. It will be analyzed through the prism of social and spatial justice.The project raises three main research questions: 1) the genesis and conditions for developing collaborative partnerships between organized civil society and facilitators; 2) relations between political-institutional contexts and configurations of organizational collaborative practices; 3) the organization and circulation of knowledge within these collaborations and the role played by different types of intermediary actors, especially the university in the field of action research ("pesquisa-ação"). CoPolis will conduct a mixed methodology combining qualitative research with participatory action research. Will be investigated eight Brazilian and French cases in different urban contexts ranging from large urban projects to occupations in central areas. The survey will also be retrospective study, with an analysis of long-term collaborative practices since the 1950s, based in two emblematic districts in France. In relation to action-research, the team will work with partnerships already formed by civil society actors in place and inhabitants. CoPolis is both comparative and participatory research, both anchored in partnerships with middle actors and civil society organizations. The tangible contributions of collaborative approaches in different social, economic, political and institutional contexts will be evaluated, highlighting the main conditions that favor collaborative practices. The expected results include the systematization of organizational configurations and tools of social cooperation for the social co-production of the city, as well as the scientific diffusion of this reflection. (AU)