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KURB 2040 - Spatial analysis of urban inequalities across cities

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


Students are expected to have a C1 level in English, some background in urban sociology, a good knowledge in quantitative methods and to manage elemental statistical skills (descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing). They should have reflected on the use of data visualization and mapping to support the understanding of urban inequalities at various spatial scales.

Course Description

Inequalities are on the rise in major cities and threaten social cohesion. These trends are not randomly distributed across urban spaces and follow spatial logics that shape complex forms of integration and exclusion. The goal of this course is to explore these schemes of socio-spatial differentiation in several contexts and at various spatial scales, relying on quantitative methods and mapping techniques. A substantial part of the classes focuses on segregation, its causes, intensity and effects, as it is a major factor of these restructuring dynamics. The course is divided in three parts and seeks to provide students both with theoretical knowledge and methodological skills. It first tries to reach a precise understanding of the spatial approach to study inequalities in urban contexts and the main theoretical framework to analyse them, by relying on the work of prominent authors and on recent empirical contributions. Second, the bulk of the course is devoted to practical uses of datasets coming from various surveys in order to produce substantial results about the role of space in inequalities and how it intersects with other factors of social stratification. The course provides students with an opportunity to acquire skills in quantitative methods which are widely used in urban studies, in order to measure various dimensions of segregation. It explores their determinants, putting particular emphasis on social inequalities, housing and education systems, and how these factors play out differently across local contexts. In addition, we introduce classification methods to better understand the patterns of the socio-spatial organisation of cities. Finally, the purpose of this course is to acquaint students with Geographic Information System to produce maps, investigating the possibilities afforded by various ways to visualize different kinds of data. Along the semester, we will constantly discuss the strength and drawbacks of the data used, of the categories and the spatial scales chosen, and the relevancy of the mapping tools so as to increase the ability of students to correctly select the quantitative and spatial methods in relation to their research questions.


RAMOND, Quentin (Doctorant)

Pedagogical format

12 courses of 2 hours.

Course validation

4 credits for this module. Participation (10%): Students are expected to attend every class prepared to discuss the readings. From one session to another, students should prepare the data or GIS files if they are asked to. Final paper (60%): Groups of two or three students will have to write a 10 to 15-pages final paper investigating social changes and residential segregation in a city, using the data and methods studied in class (indexes, spatial autocorrelation, classifications, maps). The paper requires an introduction, a short literature review, a presentation of the city studied, a research question, a description of the data and methods, the presentation of the results, and a conclusion. Students from Master STU will have to realize their analysis on French “villes moyennes” (choose one in the list below). Villes moyennes are cities which count between 20,000 and 100,000 inhabitants. Often absent from academic research, they present some specificities compared to metropolitan areas. Their patterns of organization, logics of cohesion as well as their identity remain highly connected to the characteristics of local contexts. Moreover, villes moyennes are highly differentiated one from another, in relation to their particular economic histories, urbanization processes, political culture, and are likely to follow distinctive patterns of segregation. Works can be written in English or French. Students from Master GLM will have to realize their analysis on metropolises (choose one in the list below). Their works will focuses on US and Latin-America metropolises. Starting from their results, students should be able to engage stimulating debates with patterns identified in European cities and to feed the debate about a supposed process of homogenization in terms of urban changes patterns in large metropolises. Works must be written in English. In each city, social changes and segregation may not stem from the same factors. Students are then encouraged to use original secondary sources (archives, interviews, and academic research) to understand and explain their quantitative results by a discussion of context specificities. The general goal is to compile the works of students to reach a systematic comparison of segregation between cities. It could lead to a collective publication. Presentation of the final paper (30%): The presentations will take place in the two last class sessions. Groups of students will have to present their work during 10 minutes. Then, designated groups of students will be in charge of the discussion of the work presented during 10 minutes. All the class must attend the presentation.

Required reading

  • Maloutas, T., Fujita, K., 2012. Residential segregation in comparative perspective: making sense of contextual diversity. Burlington : Ashgate
  • Massey, D.S., 1990. American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass. American journal of sociology, 96(2), p. 329-357
  • Musterd, S., Marcińczak, S., van Ham, M., Tammaru, T., 2016. Socioeconomic segregation in European capital cities. Increasing separation between poor and rich. Urban Geography, 1–22.
  • Oberti, M., Préteceille, E., 2016. La ségrégation urbaine. Paris : La Découverte