Empowering the Unprivileged: The Case of Self-renovation in Disadvantaged Areas

Christope Foultier
Linköping University, Sweden

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Ingår i: Current Issues in European Cultural Studies; June 15-17; Norrköping; Sweden 2011

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 62:58, s. 545-551

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Publicerad: 2011-11-22

ISBN: 978-91-7519-993-1

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


In the 90’s; several European governments promoted the involvement of inhabitants as an important condition of success in urban regeneration projects. The dialogue with inhabitants was supposed to strengthen a collective movement in the neighbourhoods; to restore social and territorial cohesion and create a local identity among the residents of disadvantaged areas. However; a number of issues can be raised regarding this policy: the commitment of the inhabitants in the decision-making process is difficult to ascertain; especially throughout the whole duration of the project; and in relation to the management of the different stages of the project; it is not always easy to achieve consensus; etc. In particular; it is hard for the project managers to involve the most unprivileged groups; notably people suffering from a combination of social; legal and financial problems. The stake here is not simply their participation in a project; but more specifically their “empowerment”. In this framework; the methods of the French non-profit organization Les Compagnons Bâtisseurs are instructive. They provide micro solutions to people living in poor housing conditions through the conception and the implementation of a self-renovation process. The organization proposes technical and financial support so that the most disadvantaged groups can renovate their flats. However; the goal is not only to ameliorate the material living conditions; through the organization of workshops in the neighbourhood; the participation of the inhabitants in the renovation work; the coordination between the team of Compagnons Bâtisseurs and social workers; the social inclusion of the most unprivileged groups can be promoted.


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