The Paris Banlieue: Peripheries of Inequity

Marc Angélil
Cary Siress
April 18, 2012

Debates on contemporary urban conditions often center on the periphery of the city where an ever-increasing proportion of the urban population is forced to live. This article focuses on the banlieue—the periphery of Paris—as a model for the breakdown of the spatial order in cities globally. We examine how France’s urban planning, guided by political and economic influences, has created and sustained banlieue poverty and marginalization. With rising anxieties about civil disorder in Paris resulting from the spatial inequities and cultural stigma toward the banlieue, it is now generally agreed that the city’s historical planning policies have failed. We argue that any attempt to allocate space within a city equitably cannot emanate from the city center alone, but must also come from the marginalized periphery, which is equally a part of the system.