Reference : Metropolitan governance rescaling in Belgium, France and United Kingdom. Studying bou...
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Human geography & demography
Metropolitan governance rescaling in Belgium, France and United Kingdom. Studying boundaries of urban governments through the application of an analytical framework for institutional changes.
Breuer, Christophe mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de géographie > Service de géographie économique (ECOGEO) >]
Regional Conference of the International Geographical Union
du 18 août 2014 au 22 août 2014
International Geographical Union
[en] urban rescaling ; institutional change ; urban government
[en] Second tier European cities (small metropolis or regional cities) are subject to permanent reconfigurations of their governance. These changes are the response to both external and internal transformations. On the one side, they are facing external pressures as increased competition between cities, European integration, legislative evolution or paradigm switch. On the other side, cities are dealing with internal problems: urban sprawl, socio-spatial segregation, actors’ fragmentation, financial issues, etc. These tensions renew themselves and take various shapes. They are wondering cities governance and ways to manage them. To cope with new challenges in a new context, cities are trying to reconfigure their collective action in a new spatiality and with new coordination modes. In this context, inherited institutional boundaries – that could be seen as obsolete or inadequate in a changing World – are particularly under pressure.
Cities governments and their spatial limits are a central issue for researchers, politicians and urban actors, and a major component of the urban or metropolitan governance. Although second-tier cities are an essential part of the “polycentric system of European cities”, attention has essentially been focused on large metropolis and capital cities, where the problem occurred earlier. Furthermore, there is an extended literature on institutional change and the “rescaling”, but research mainly focused on the response of cities to economic changes; few analysis offer a good comprehension of particular trajectories and evolution of cities limits which are highly embedded in local context. These shortcomings make the reading of contemporary mutations particularly complex for local actors.
Our paper presents our research on the development and the validation of an analytical framework to interpret changes in cities’ governments boundaries. We improved and used a framework based on institutional change and social change, which combined both institutional design theories and self-organization theories. The analytical framework had been tested on the last decades government limits changes of regional cities and small metropolis in France (Saint-Étienne, Metz), United Kingdom (Sheffield) and Belgium (Liège, Brussels). The research was carried on with historical and geographical data collected during research stays in each of these cities: historical evolution of cities limits, legislation’ development, urbanization trajectory, etc.
The research leads to some conclusions. Firstly, it is possible to develop a generic analytical framework to identify and interpret mutations of city government limits. This framework helps to make a systematic identification of actors’ dynamics, internal or external pressure and spatial changes, and go ahead apparent dichotomy between quick adjustment and high stability of some governance configuration. Secondly, the analytical model shows there is a common scheme of city limits evolution, which is driven among others things by European common dynamics (specifically economic and political dynamic). Thirdly, despite similarities in cities government boundaries changes, the analytical model demonstrates the importance of local contexts to understand individual evolutions and the specific trajectory of a city’ limits.
Lepur : Centre de Recherche sur la Ville, le Territoire et le Milieu rural
CPDT - Conférence Permanente du Développement Territorial

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