You are here




Residential densification policies are now part of a range of solutions wielded by public authorities to contribute to sustainable urban development. Although the economic and environmental aspects of these measures have been relatively well studied, there has been little analysis of the social dimension of these policies. The purpose of this article is to discuss the socio-spatial implications of densification measures through an urban political ecology approach, which seeks to critically examine the weights of the different principles of  sustainability partially and selectively affecting urbanized areas and their inhabitants. This discussion is based on the analysis of differentiated residential densification polices being put in place in suburban municipalities in the Paris City region in France and in the Greater Toronto Area in Canada.


The contemporary debates on urban densification, the residential attractiveness of city centres and the fight against urban sprawl, the objectives being a matter of broad political consensus, usually remain little related to any questioning of the social content of the processes at work in the territories concerned. There is however food for thought here since numerous studies have raised the topicality of the gentrification process of certain popular central residential districts as well as the relegation of precarious populations towards other districts, in city centres or peripheries.