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Co-existing in the city : Perturbation, resistance, co-operation

Cohabiter dans la ville : troubles, résistances, coopérations

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Published on Friday, May 29, 2020


La revue Espaces & Sociétés lance un appel à contribution pour un numéro thématique intitulé « Cohabiter dans la ville : troubles, résistances, coopérations ». Ce dossier invite à explorer des situations de cohabitation entre citadins, quels que soient leur statut – propriétaires, locataires, résidents de foyers d’hébergement. Il s’intéresse aux différentes déclinaisons de la cohabitation, à ses possibilités, comme à ses empêchements, à l’échelle spatiale du logement, du quartier, et de la ville.


Translated from French by Miriam Rosen


Co-ordinated by Florence Bouillon, Marine Maurin and Pascal Pichon


This thematic issue of Espaces et Sociétés is intended to explore situations of co-existence, most often involuntary, between city-dwellers, whatever their status – homeowners, landlords and tenants, residents of social housing or temporary shelters. We employ the concept of co-existence both in the literal sense, as ‘the fact of living together’, and more broadly as a social organisation of the private sphere in extremely varied places and conditions of proximity. This organisation can be chosen or not. It does not always guarantee the continuity of the familiar setting suggested by ideas of ‘my place/home/house’ or ‘our place/home/house’. Rather, it is subject to economic contingencies, social inequalities and obstacles to acquiring one’s own housing, especially in the large metropolitan areas. We are therefore concerned with the forms of otherness embodied in the figures of the poor person and the stranger as set out by Simmel (1908), in order to examine the spectrum of co-existence relationships, going from copresence, understood as a ‘concerted activity’ (Joseph, 1998) that is fleeting but nonetheless repeated, to neighbourly relations, with all of their nuances and complexities.

These initial definitions are not meant to limit the proposals to come; rather, they mark a point of departure to be developed through investigations into various situations of co-existence and copresence, in different places and time frames. In our view, these two terms are inseparable for thinking about the relationships between urban housing and public spaces and the forms of co-existing socialities that they establish. For the purposes of this thematic issue, co-existence can thus be comprehended in terms of those who are settled and those in precarious residential situations or mobility. The originality of this approach, at the crossroads of urban studies, sociology of migration and sociology of poverty, consists of providing an overall view of composite situations that are most often treated separately.

This issue seeks to address the different dimensions of co-existence – temporal, spatial, interpersonal, political and moral – as well as its possibilities and its stumbling-blocks, and calls for examining today’s ‘ethics for the city’ (Sennett, 2018). To that end, it is also necessary to consider the conditions of hosting and moral acceptance, along with the tensions and conflicts at work between residents, depending on their position and status, real or imagined (Stavo-Debauge, 2003; Loison Leruste, 2014). The forms of co-existence clearly put the civic bond to the test and question the city-dweller’s civic consciousness that is expressed in the course of interactions and the larger urban experience through multiple forms of co-operation (Bidet, Boutet, Chave, Gayet-Viaud and Le Méner, 2015). Affects and emotions also act on the attitude of civic indifference, which must therefore be re-examined as well.

These repeating forms of copresence – which can also manifest themselves with more or less consistency in the routines and habits of resident socialities in the form of gifts, exchanges of goods and services or ‘visits to the poor’ in the public space (Pichon, 2012) – do not exclude explicit conflicts and rejections. Depending on ordinary moments, situations and events, weak ties and ‘tendencies to co-exist’ can thus come together (Breviglieri, Conein, 2003). These instances of perturbation, resistance and co-operation at the spatial level of the dwelling, the neighbourhood or even the city are precisely the situations that this special issue seeks to document.

In order to bring out the degrees of co-existence, ranging from Michel Agier’s ‘familiar city’ (2015) to the forms of socialities and urban lifestyles that are revealed and invented in encounters between strangers, three lines of investigation could be particularly fruitful:

Co-existing within the residential space ‘my place’, ‘our place’).

How are forms of co-existence invented between those who are not close relations, in the residential spaces of the squat, the night shelter, the hostel? What principles, values and adjustments of privacy are called into play? What forms does third-party hosting take in the case of welcoming the stranger – immigrants or homeless persons, for example – with what kind of hospitality and within what time frame?

Co-existing within a neighbourhood or an apartment block.

What are the interactions taking place between residents, neighbours or passers-by, with a view to what kind of order and according to what standards of co-existence? How are the social relations structuring daily life in the city expressed and embodied in ordinary relationships?

Beyond the issues involved in representing otherness, what are the ways an entourage is constituted? What kinds of ‘reaching out’, struggle, resistance and mobilisation, both individual and collective, are developed in these neighbourly communities? What is the role of past or present attachments in plans for living ‘here’ or ‘elsewhere’?

Co-existing within public spaces.

At a time when ‘anti-homeless’ measures are abounding in cities throughout the world, how are repeating copresences within a single space – the street or the square, for example – negotiated? How do occupation conflicts manifest themselves and, on the contrary, in what circumstances can we observe collective demands for co-existing? How are the spaces involved reclassified? Who are the authorities and actors involved in defining occupation strategies and the recourse to law? How are the timespans of co-existence negotiated, and with what constraints or restrictions?

Authors are encouraged to develop aspects of their research approaches and positions, as well as the methods and tools used, in order to bring out the features of the enquiry itself and the particular fields investigated. All research approaches in the social sciences, whether ethnographic, documentary, statistical or collaborative can be employed. Indeed, these methodological dimensions can even constitute the core of the proposal. How are we to observe, describe, investigate and report on a subject as elusive as co-existence? What are the appropriate methods and tools? How do we report on them, and to whom? How do we integrate the researcher’s act of reception into the study? And how do we develop collaborations with the respondents, through what kinds of interfaces?

These questions are to be taken as suggestions and as such, do not exhaust the possibilities for conducting and presenting the enquiry.

Submission guidelines 

Deadline for article submissions 1 November 2020


  • florence.bouillon@gmail.com
  • maurin.marine@ireis.org
  • pascale.pichon@univ-st-etienne.fr

Articles should be submitted in digital format only to all three email addresses.

Authors with questions about the relevance of their proposals can contact the co-ordinators directly.


  • The journal considers only completed articles, not proposals.
  • Articles must not exceed 7,000 words/42,000 characters (with spaces), including texts, notes, bibliographical references and appendices, but not abstracts.
  • Author guidelines and editorial standards for submissions are available on the journal website: https://www.cairn.info/docs/ES_Normes_editoriales_et_Consignes_auteurs.pdf]

It should be kept in mind that authors can submit articles independently of the thematic issues at any time, as long as these submissions deal with the relationship between spaces, territories and populations in the broad sense and respect the journal’s publication norms. If accepted, the articles are quickly published in the ‘Varia’ section.


Agier Michel, 2015, Anthropologie de la ville, Paris, Presses universitaires de France.

Breviglieri Marc, Conein Bernard (eds), 2003, Tenir ensemble et vivre avec. Explorations sociologiques de l’inclination à cohabiter: Les formes du vivre ensemble incluant la figure du tiers, report, Plan Urbanisme Construction Architecture (PUCA, Pôle Sociétés Urbaines, Habitat et Territoires, Paris.

Bidet Alexandra, Boutet Manuel, Chave Frédérique, Gayet-Viaud Carole and Le Mener Erwan, ‘Publicité, sollicitation, intervention’, SociologieS, Pragmatisme et sciences sociales: explorations, enquêtes, expérimentations, http://journals.openedition.org/sociologies/4941, uploaded 23 February 2015, accessed 15 February 2019.

Joseph Isaac, 1998, La ville sans qualités, La Tour d’Aigues, Éditions de L’Aube.

Loison Leruste Marie, 2014, Habiter à côté des SDF. Représentations et attitudes face à la pauvreté, Paris, L’Harmattan.

Pichon Pascale, [2007] 2010, Vivre dans la rue, Sociologie des sans domicile fixe, Saint-Étienne, Presses universitaires de Saint-Étienne.

Sennet Richard, 2018, Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the city, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Simmel Georg, ‘The Stranger’ [1908] 1971, in Georg Simmel: On Individuality and Social Forms, ed. and trans. Donald Levine, Chicago: University. of Chicago Press, pp. 143–150.

Stavo-Debauge Joan, 2003, ‘L’indifférence du passant qui se meut. Les ancrages du résident qui s’émeut ‘, in Daniel Cefaï and Dominique Pasquier (eds), Les sens du public. Publics politiques, publics médiatiques, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, pp. 347-371.



  • Sunday, November 01, 2020


  • cohabitation, ville, hospitalité, conflit, résistance, trouble, voisinage, quartier


  • Florence Bouillon
    courriel : florence [dot] bouillon [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Florence Bouillon
    courriel : florence [dot] bouillon [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Co-existing in the city : Perturbation, resistance, co-operation », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, May 29, 2020, https://doi.org/10.58079/14y8

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