Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Regional Science

The Construction of Micro-Regional Territories and Their Economic Relevance: The Case of the Pays in France./La Construction De Territoires Micro-Regionaux et Leur Signification Economique : Le Cas Des « Pays » En France

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Regional Science

The Construction of Micro-Regional Territories and Their Economic Relevance: The Case of the Pays in France./La Construction De Territoires Micro-Regionaux et Leur Signification Economique : Le Cas Des « Pays » En France

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper reports on multidisciplinary research into the setting up of local development areas in France known as pays. Under the impetus of the 1999 blueprint legislation on territorial development, the pays policy is designed to encourage local economic actors to put together a development project. These structures have two distinctive characteristics in the context of French institutions: they are devised for the micro-regional scale and are to be established on a voluntary basis through the free association of local councils. Pays are more obviously suited to rural areas but they may also bring together urban and periurban councils. This means that those pays that have been formed exhibit a wide variety of sizes and structures. First, a snapshot of this diversity is presented by proposing a typology of all the pays in France. This is then extended to a sociological and economic analysis of the corresponding territories. The sociological analysis focuses on the role of local councillors in constructing pays and on the roles of other categories of actors. The economic analysis raises the issue of just how relevant the areas thus delimited are for local and regional development.

The method adopted combines two complementary approaches: the statistical analysis of a national data base and the in-depth analysis of four study areas in Burgundy. The data relate to the delimitation of the pays, the characteristics of the local councillors and the socio-economic characteristics of each council area (size, social make-up, employment, demography, among other characteristics). The field-study areas are representative of the variety of pays in Burgundy and are studied through direct surveys.

From the data collected, a map of the pays has been drawn and a typology established. The 291 pays formed as of 1 January 2004 involve more than two-thirds of French local councils and 40 % of the population, with the major cities remaining apart. The typology was constructed by classifying councils as belonging to predominantly rural areas (i.e. towns with 1500--5000 jobs (rural employment centres) and employing more than 60 % of the resident working population) or predominantly urban areas (i.e. towns with more than 5000 jobs (urban employment centres) and council areas where more than 40 % of the working population work in the employment centres), by counting the number of employment centres in each pays; in the urban area category, periurban councils were also distinguished.

Cluster analysis identified five types of pays: (i) urban, (ii) peri-urban, and (iii) rural pays, with a subdivision of this latter class into (iiia) sparsely populated areas with one market town at most, (iiib) pays with two or more market towns and (iv) composite pays combining rural and urban areas structured by a medium-sized town or a network of such towns. It is observed that the pays policy covers all categories of territory, that the internal heterogeneity of the pays is a relative matter (4 out of 5 groups are connected with a dominant territorial category) and, lastly, that rural pays are predominant. The role of towns is not negligible since 160 pays (more than half the total) contain at least one urban employment centre with more than 5000 jobs.

The sociological analysis revealed that the involvement of local councillors in delimiting the pays can be explained by their role in earlier development actions and their understanding of groupings among councils. In all cases, the opening up of the pays to actors from the business and community spheres has relied on local councillors and on their local support networks and apparatus. Pays are a breeding ground for professional politicians, bringing together traditional and modern political notability based on competence (qualifications, occupations). This professionalization is leading to a standardization of the social profiles of local councillors.

The development council is a participative democracy body devised to involve members of local civil society in defining the development plan for the pays, in conjunction with the public body of elected representatives which takes the decisions and ensures the financial and administrative management of the pays. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.