Geographia Polonica (1997) vol. 69

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Towns and metropolitan areas in Switzerland: a centrality in metamorphosis through mutations in the work force and selective migrations

Antonio Cunha, Jean-bernard Racine

Geographia Polonica (1997) vol. 69, pp. 67-90

Abstract

Even if the urban centres of Switzerland appear to have avoided the problemsassailing those of neighbouring countries, they are none the less suffering from the effects ofa profound economic mutation which is changing the face of Switzerland's economic evolutionand altering the perceptions that the Swiss and their political authorities have of theirurban future. In recalling this evolution, we are moved to the observation of a socio-spatialrecomposition (the expansion of urban areas towards metropolitan space) that is significantfrom an economic point of view, as well as of the emergence of new social and ecologicalimperatives which bring the established relationships between public action, social structuresand territorial distributions radically into question. In this federalist country with its uniquetradition of direct democracy, any urban policy inevitably finds itself in confrontation witha whole range of conflicting territorial interests: institutional, economic and socio-cultural.A minute analysis of these interests - conducted on the basis of data gathered at the communallevel throughout the urban areas of Switzerland and defining the structures and the qualityof the work force - demonstrates that they are linked to correlates - both territorial andbehavioural - which are determinant in the emerging relationships of social and environmentalchange active at different levels throughout Switzerland. These overlapping conflicts ofinterest may well prove dangerous to national cohesion in the long term.

Keywords: Globalisation, metropolisation, centrality, mobility - division of labour, professional qualification, selective migration, social exclusion, Switzerland

Antonio Cunha, Instituí de Géographie, Université de Neuchátel Ecole des HEC and Instituí de Géographie University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Jean-bernard Racine, Instituí de Géographie, Université de Neuchátel Ecole des HEC and Instituí de Géographie University of Lausanne, Switzerland