La Rénovation urbaine
Démolition-reconstruction de l'État
Demolition and Reconstruction of the State
As the policies implemented since the beginning of the 1980s with regard to large-scale social housing have failed to halt the spiral of downgrading and exclusion, their demolition has become the de facto solution to the problem of the French suburbs.
The National Urban Renewal Program (PNRU - Programme national de rénovationurbaine) launched by Jean-Louis Borloo in 2003 has transformed France's large-scale social housing landscape into a vast construction site. Demolition and reconstruction projects have been undertaken in over 500 neighborhoods, mobilizing a colossal amount of funds — 45 billion Euro in all — with the dual goal of rendering their urban configuration commonplace and encouraging social diversity.
Even as the first projects are being completed and the illusion that social problems will be solved through urban transformation is dissipating, this publication revisits the implementation and effects of a program which, since its inception, has been presented as a success marking an end to decades of failure.
This analysis of the PNRU and its historical contextualization renews the debates on urban policies and shines a new light on the territorial effects of State-led reforms during the 2000s. In fact, urban renewal follows from and pertains to the larger process of the demolition and reconstruction of the State, simultaneously producing its withdrawal from the territories and restoring its capacity for guiding the policies implemented therein from a distance.