The relationship between the urban and the rural in the face of current changes
A. The distinction between urban-rural and predominantly urban space – predominantly rural space
Bernard Henri Nicot, an engineer and researcher at SIRIUS, a department of the Institut d’Urbanisme de
Paris, reminds us in the article “Urban-Rural: what are we talking about?”, published in June 2005, of the
distinction between :
– on the one hand, “urban” and “rural” in the strict sense
– on the other hand, predominantly urban areas and predominantly rural areas.
Urban and rural, which can also be more accurately referred to as urban and rural, relate to the definition of
definition of urban units. These urban units are determined according to the criterion of
2000 inhabitants. There are only three exceptions: three agglomerations, part of which is located abroad, and which are
and which with this part would reach the 2000 inhabitants.
However, municipalities with more than 2000 inhabitants are not necessarily urban. Ex:
Treillières, 6000 inhabitants. In the same way, the urban communes do not necessarily have more than
2000 inhabitants: e.g. Saint-Léonard, which had 77 inhabitants.
In fact, according to the INSEE criteria established in 1954, the following are considered urban
municipalities included in an urban unit.
There are thus 1995 urban units in metropolitan France (998 of which correspond to a single
Of the 36,570 communes in metropolitan France, 7,227 were urban in 2010, i.e
that they belong to an urban unit.
2. Predominantly urban area – predominantly rural area
In the 1990s, the concept of urban area zoning (abbreviated ZAU) was developed.
INSEE defines the urban area as: “a group of municipalities, in one piece and without an enclave, made up of an urban centre and other
enclave, made up of an urban center and rural municipalities or urban units (peri-urban ring) of which at least 40% are located in
where at least 40% of the resident population with a job works in the centre or in communes attracted by it
or in municipalities attracted by it
An urban cluster is “an agglomeration of municipalities offering 5,000 or more jobs.”
The “multipolarized municipalities of large urban areas” are municipalities in which at least
40% of their resident employed workers work in several large urban areas, without reaching this threshold with only one of them
the “other multipolarized communes” are those where at least 40% of the employed residents work in several large urban areas, without reaching this threshold with only one of them, and which form with them a contiguous whole.
The “other multipolarized municipalities” are municipalities located outside the large urban areas, medium-sized areas, and
areas, medium-sized areas, small areas, and outside the multipolarized communes of large urban
urban areas, where at least 40% of the employed residents work in several areas,
without reaching this threshold with only one of them, and which form with them a single
a single area.
The ensemble formed by urban areas and multipolarized municipalities constitutes the predominantly urban area
the predominantly urban area. The rest is the predominantly rural area.
3. Superimposition and non-overlap of urban-rural and predominantly urban or rural spaces
these predominantly urban or rural spaces should not be confused with urban or rural environments
or rural areas.
We note that the predominantly urban area includes more than 13,000 rural municipalities, representing 7.7 million inhabitants, while the predominantly rural area includes
representing 7.7 million inhabitants, while the predominantly rural area includes 1,400 urban
the predominantly rural area includes 1,400 urban municipalities, with a population of 3.9 million.
Even if the confusion is maintained by very similar urbanization rates for the two concepts
the 2007 census, 77.5 per cent of the metropolitan population lives in urban areas (47.9 million inhabitants)
(47.9 million inhabitants), compared with 82% in predominantly urban areas.
B. The precision of the scales makes it possible to identify a contemporary phenomenon of
1. The global crisis of the urban-urban couple
Christian Vandermotten, a doctor of geographic sciences and a graduate in urban planning, warns against an analysis that does not take into account the different scales
analysis that does not take into account the different scales. “To analyze
the apparent revival of the rural world in central countries can only be done
the scales of analysis,” he writes in an article entitled “Urban-rural interaction: the
“The urban-rural interaction: a renewed problematic”.
Christian Vandemotten thus highlights the notion of rurbanization.
Rurbanization is the development of villages, often with old nuclei, located near cities, of which they are suburbs
of cities of which they constitute suburbs.
For Vandermotten, “Rurbanization should not be interpreted as the consequence of the urban crisis, but rather as a
consequence of the urban crisis, but rather as one of the aspects, a new form, of a global
of a global crisis of the urban – rurban couple in the context of megapolization”.
The rurbanization would be the consequence of a more general movement, namely the megapolization
in several forms:
the ideology of “nature”, but ultimately based on the trade-offs between land rent and the cost of transport, in the context of the
land rent and transport costs, within the framework of the regulatory system.
On a smaller scale, rurbanization is also a function of global economic and social relations, largely imposed by the
imposed by the dominant economic forces at the center, such as the underestimation of the real
of the real cost of transport, allowing both peri-urbanization/rurbanization and the transfer of
the transfer of production to the countries of the periphery in order to maintain profit rates, which in turn
which in turn leads to underinvestment in the productive sectors of the central countries and a concentration of
concentration of available capital on speculative investments, such as urban real estate, with the
urban real estate, with a consequent increase in the tendency to seek residences far from the centers of the
of the largest cities.
2. The need for a policy in line with these new relationships between urban and rural areas
Rurbanization has negative consequences. Seven negative effects can be identified:
– the consumption of space,
– the destructuring of landscapes and heritage values,
– a disorganized increase in mobility, mainly individual,
– an increase in additional energy costs,
– an increase in the difficulties of access to housing for the native rural population,
– a weakening of the tax base of central cities
– an increase in real estate costs and environmental constraints on urban populations
These problems, which take into account the evolution of contemporary relations between the urban and the rural, cannot be ignored
these problems, which take into account the evolution of contemporary relations between the urban and the rural, can only be overcome by a detailed analysis of the scales considered.
The policies that these transformations may call for in urban or rurbanized spaces,
such as the regulation of land use and real estate prices, would require the implementation of policies at
the implementation of policies on the scale of large metropolitan areas. This implies
(i.e., a redistribution mechanism that aims to reduce wealth gaps, and thus inequalities
(i.e., a redistribution mechanism that aims to reduce the differences in wealth, and therefore inequalities, between different territorial communities) between cities and peri-urban areas
between cities and peri-urban areas.
Policies in remote, peripheral rural areas respond to a different development
different evolution. It is necessary in these areas to encourage the availability of services,
it is necessary to encourage the availability of services, accessibility, industrial or service activities, and the reception of new inhabitants.
This redefinition of the urban and the rural finally raises the question of the democratic legitimacy
for the development of these spaces. In particular, it is a question of knowing whether rural people alone should
rural areas, or whether urban dwellers should also take part in the decision-making process
and vice versa for the urban space.
Bernard Henri NICOT, “Urbain-Rural: de quoi parle-t-on?”, June 2005
Christian Vandermotten, “Urban-rural interaction: a renewed problematic”, Articulo –
Journal of Urban Research [Online], Special issue 3 | 2010, Online since 13 December 2010,
connection on 02 February 2015. URL : http://articulo.revues.org/1604 ; DOI : 10.4000/articulo.