"Participatory democracy" in a French Communist suburb
This article analyzes how interactions between local politicians, administrative officials, and residents of a Communist-led Parisian suburb have been transformed since the 1960s. Older political practices are examined in order to understand why the city council has initiated town hall meetings ("comités de quartier") over the last ten years. Participatory democracy has been used by local leaders to cope with the political, social and economic changes facing the city. While town hall meetings work to update socio-political practices, these initiatives are weakened by the process of disaffiliation threatening the working class. In recent years, a broader arena for political debate, the city forum ("assises de la ville"), has been created to gain the support of other social groups. This forum represents a renewed attempt to move away from the older militants and the traditionally Communist city management.