Research projects


New Research Project (may 2013)

Spring Trajectories : Youth and Political Mobilization in Montreal. A new research project at the VESPA
retraces the spatial trajectories of student political actions since
the spring of 2012. With biometrics tools and multimedia equipment, our
team will walk through the same spaces that came alive during the
demonstrations, occupations and artistic productions of the Printemps érable.
How did youths feel as they were marching, occupying, creatively
producing ? What urban characteristics have marked these mobilizations ?
How do the memories of these events affect their political engagement ?

If you would like to participate write to : LaboVESPA@UCS.INRS.Ca


More and more people are moving often – farther, faster, and with greater ease. Mobility is, in other words, a central sociological phenomenon tied to processes of globalization. The multiplicity of individual choices, technological advancements, and demands for a flexible workforce are some factors that incite people to move. New family structures – e.g. single parents whose resources are based on the support of the extended or reconstituted families – are themselves “mobile” in the sense that they are broken up into many households, and often dispersed in more than one city, if not countries. Some sociological researchers have pinpointed the individualistic component of mobility : the act of moving implies the individual, not the masses. That is to say that the experience of movement shapes the essence of the individual being. Noteworthy, in light of this research, is the constantly rising value of mobility in our societies : mobility has become a form of socio-cultural capital essential for a good career. Yet mobility also allows for the development of certain abilities, the experience of certain emotions, and the creation of an identity. Hence, though mobility may be considered a social lever in the labour market, our research proposes a broader appraisal of mobility as a catalyst for personal development.


VESPA has also initiated two research projects exploring the impacts of mobility and collaborates with two others :

Understanding the city as a generative of socio-political mobilization : The case of Los Angeles,

 funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

For Further Information »

The goal of this research is to better understand how the city would produce socio-political mobilization in a context where globalization and urbanization go hand in hand. The initial hypothesis is that spaces of circulation, i.e. travel in and around the city, serve as catalysts for mobilization because they arouse mixed emotions and allow for the appropriation of many new spaces. From an ethnographic study with women of Latin American origin in Los Angeles, we attempt to better understand the impact of their migration experience and their daily mobility on political consciousness. These women perform frequent and lengthy trips to work as domestic help in neighbourhoods different from their own. The rides between home and work allow them to compare various situations, access information, develop a support network on the buses, etc.


Appréhensions et opportunités face à la mobilité des jeunes. Le cas montréalais,

funded by the Centre Métropolis du Quebec, in partnership with the Direction de la diversité sociale de la Ville de Montréal.

For Further Information »

Following a series of highly publicized articles on street gangs in Montreal and their expansion to Laval, the goal was to better understand the uneasiness towards the construction of the metro in Laval and the possibilities that it brought about for social development. In order to do this, we focused our research on two aspects. First, in response to the idea that the metro would accelerate the arrival of problems perceived as “urban” – such as street gangs – into the suburbs, this project sought to compare youths’ representations of the city and the suburb. The sampled population wascomposed of students in either senior high school (secondary 5) or college (CEGEP) in Montreal and Laval. Then, the practices of mobility of this youth (metro use) were explored to measure the impact of a better access to public transportation on the development of social and intercultural abilities. This research does not seek to directly study the mobility practices of street gangs or criminalization by or through the metro, but rather to understand how the mobility of youths in general could contribute to 1) a decrease in feelings of insecurity rather than an intensification of it as is suggested by the media debate ; 2) a favouring of intercultural understanding ; and 3) the development of new abilities among youths.

This project is tied to the broader problem developed by the project L’appréhension face à la ville et le comportement politique en banlieue. L’exemple du quartier Laval-des-Rapides dans la région métropolitaine de Montréal, funded by the Fonds québécois de recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC), which asks the question : What is about the city that gives rise to political mobilisation ? What is the weight of social representations of the city and the suburb in the political behaviour of suburban Montreal youths ? What type of political behaviour (voting, Internet practices, lobbying, associations, etc.) do we find ? A specific event, the advent of the Laval metro, serves as a laboratory to explore the articulation between representations of the city and of the suburb, the daily reality in these living environments and the political behaviour, by highlighting the role of emotions in the political process, a role often forgotten in favour of arguments put forth in terms of conflict of interests and rational calculations. The opening of the metro station in Laval seems to have aroused some uneasiness for it could facilitate, according to some, the “arrival” of phenomena associated with negative representations of the city – such as street gangs – in the suburb. Can emotions such as apprehension and deception in regards to a daily life that does not (or no longer) appear like the idyllic representations of the suburb arouse certain forms of awareness-raising and political engagement ? The metro as a new element in the daily lives of the residents of Laval serves as a starting point to this research, which targets the exploration of the relative influence of rational calculation and of emotions (apprehension, deception) in political action.


La métropolisation vue par ses axes de mobilité, équipe Métropolisation et Société, funded by the Fonds québécois de recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC), under the direction of Jean-Pierre Collin, with Gilles Sénécal, Pierre J. Hamel, Laurence Bherer and Julie-Anne Boudreau.

For Further Information »

How can we understand the political future of a metropolitan area characterised by the uncertainty of its borders and its relations to other political jurisdictions ? How do we encourage living together when confronted with growing inequality and polarization, coupled with the increasing mobility of individuals ? Faced with this uncertainty and at a dead-end in the way research questions are asked, we propose a reformulation of the notion of metropolisation. In the prospect of a long-term research program, we seek to 1) determine a new epistemological starting point that will allow us to ask the question of metropolisation not in reference to the paradigm of stable, closed and instituted political territories, but rather by highlighting the axes that make up the metropolis ; and 2) develop a new multidimensional system of analysis that will be reproducible in several parts of the city and in the analysis of other cities.


Les Autochtones et la ville : identité, mobilité, qualité de vie et gouvernance, réseau DIALOG, funded by the Community-University Research Alliance (CUPA) of the SSHRS, under the direction of Carole Lévesque and Edith Cloutier.

This community-university research alliance (CURA), named Odena (which means “families” and “city” in the Algonquin language) seeks to document, understand and analyse the new logics and dynamics underlying the presence of Aboriginals in Quebec city so as to improve their quality of life by offering services and programs targeted specifically at them, and support initiatives for social, cultural, political and economic development led by leaders and stakeholders. Four priority research objectives were identified : 1) to draw an overall picture of the social, economic, cultural, political and legal status of Aboriginal people in cities in order to build new indicators and new mechanisms for action planning ; 2) to characterise and evaluate, at the level of each centre, the practices and programs so as to shape the service offered and reinforce capacities ; 3) to understand current challenges concerning poverty, racism, discrimination, exclusion, inequality and insecurity in order to diversify and consolidate interventions in social development ; 4) to identify the conditions of a new citizen participation and enhance Aboriginal collective action.

VESPA in 360 News

03.2013 | Publications en ligne [WWW]

Nathalie Boucher co-écrit : " 100, Somerville"

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04.2012 | Multimedia space

Article Bank

Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montréal

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