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Title: Neighborhoods against the State. Urban Policy and Violent Protest in Western Europe.
Authors: Moutselos, Michail
Advisors: Beissinger, Mark R.
Dancygier, Rafaela M.
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: France
Grands Ensembles
Social Housing
Urban Policy
Western Europe
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Violent anti-state rioting has erupted in many poor, immigrant-heavy neighborhoods in Western Europe over the last thirty years. Conventional explanations emphasize socioeconomic or ethnic grievances, the under-representation of immigrant minorities, or the effects of national integration models on state-minority relations. Noting inconsistencies in such explanations, this dissertation argues that anti-state rioting results from a particular type of state-society relations: urban policy and the concentration of social housing in large estates. Large social-housing estates are conducive to rioting through the following mechanisms: they concentrate the socioeconomic handicaps and reduce the collective efficacy of their inhabitants; their large scale renders administration and policing problematic; and they provide local youth with a focal point to engage in violent collective action. Rioters employ networks and resources particular to social housing estates, while diffusion of violence resembles a mimetic process across estates.To test the argument I perform multivariate analyses using an original municipality-level dataset of the 2005 anti-state riots in France. I show that the incidence, intensity and diffusion of rioting is positively associated with the existence of large social housing estates. I complement this finding with an analysis of anti-state attitudes among French individuals of immigrant origin. A structured case-study comparison of two municipalities in the North of Paris demonstrates the mechanisms behind the hypothesized effect. Everyday violent incidents, local-level opinion polarization, stigmatization of the estates, complaints about social housing administration, counter-productive policing and oppositional territorial identities are observed in one municipality, but not the other, despite similar socioeconomic and political characteristics. The difference lies in one municipality having dispersed social housing, while the other features social housing estates. I also trace the historical development of social housing as state-led social policy and highlight its inadvertent consequences. The failures of urban policy fueling anti-state rioting in France do not reflect state inaction, but path-dependent processes triggered by post-war mass-scale construction. Finally, I expand the temporal and geographic scope of the argument by applying the explanatory framework to earlier riots in France and other West European countries (England, Sweden and Belgium).
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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