Analyzing urban conflicts: NIMBY syndrome, urban justice and social movement

In the last thirty years we have seen an important development (in both ways, increase and sophistication) of government mechanisms to catch citizen’s preferences about policies making choices in urban space: laws, referendas, public opinions polls, and public hearings. In spite of this development, we witness an increase or, at least, a stabilization of number of protest against urban policies.   We are not talking of “glocalized” urban protest, these in which local actions are coordinated on a global scale to confront global powers’ expressions (banks, corporations or international organizations). We shall focus on urban social movements regarding a traditional issue: the urban services infrastructure projects (waste management, water supply, mobility or use of public space). Hence, the core issue of this session shall be the question of proximity in those movements. Not only because cities have always been a privileged place to observe the collective expressions against public projects that affect the day to day life of citizens, but because inequalities associated to public interventions are more perceptible. Scholars usually associate the NIMBY syndrome to tension between technocratic and democratic decision-making: the conflict between the interest of particular communities and more general interest has been the core of this debate. In this session first of all, we want to study how conflicts are configured or reconfigured in the contemporary city. For instance, how stakeholders, on the one hand, claim nearness as a main concern, on the other hand, they also tie networks that go beyond local space. Second of all, in a perspective of international comparison, we want to re-think the analytical frameworks of conflicts. Observing ways of expressing the opposition to projects in the North and South countries cities, allow us to refresh the traditional expressions of MIMBY syndrome and to sketch a balance of works about NIMBY phenomena.

Vicente Ugalde, Colegio de Mexico

Patrice Melé, UMR CITERES, CNRS, University of Tours