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Thomas Buhler, Samuel Carpentier-Postel and Laurent Matthey

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1For the past fifty years, the analysis of urban planning discourses, and of discourses of city dwellers and citizens, has given rise to many monographs as well as rare comparative and critical studies, both in English and in French. The growing accessibility of textual data has given new relevance to these by-now-classic approaches. Online media, websites, social networks, and planning documents (Buhler and Lethier, 2019) are making new analyses possible.

2On the one hand, computer-aided text-analysis methods and tools (Lebart and Salem, 1994) have continuously been developed and become more accessible to the academic community. Free open-source tools such as IRAMUTEQ (Ratinaud, 2009) and TXM (Heiden et al 2010) have, for example, greatly facilitated access to software for processing these semantic corpora. On the other hand, the diversity of media used opens the way for analyses which, drawing inspiration from approaches developed in the field of cultural studies, attempt to understand the effects that formats have on the ways in which discourses are framed (Matthey, Gaberell, Cogato-Lanza, and Ambal, 2023).

3This is the context in which Issue 24 of Articulo — Journal of Urban Research is being published. The articles gathered here deal with the subject of discourse by means of urban planning documents and interviews with professionals (see the texts by Matthieu Adam or Saray Chavez, Nathalie Molines, Katia Chancibault, and Bernard de Gouvello), diagnoses or preliminary studies (see the article by Anthony Ximenez), interviews with users (cf. Jianyu Chen, Philippe Gerber, and Thierry Ramadier or Eleonore Pigalle), and analyses of online platforms (see the contribution by Monique Bertrand) or social networks (see the paper by Anak Agung Ayu Suci Warakanyaka). They examine cases from France, Luxembourg, Mali, or Indonesia and employ text analysis, content analysis, text mining, multiple correspondence analysis, etc. The contributions grouped in this issue are thus representative of the way in which discourse analysis in urban planning and development has been extended. However, this diversity aside, they all share the fact that they reveal, by means of discourses, the tensions between intentions and practices, the influence of representations on planning and mobility, and the contributions of critical perspectives to the analysis of urban planning and development policies.

4The first part of this issue specifically focuses on what could be called planning discourses. Matthieu Adam’s article, “Conformist singularities. Standardized discourses on the local specificities of urban projects”, looks at the standardisation of discourses promoting urban projects. While these discourses endeavour to highlight local singularities, a textual analysis of interviews conducted by the researcher with architects, urban planners, landscape architects, developers, and project managers of two urban projects in France brings to light their uniformity, showing the difficulty of achieving the objective of being both identifiable and distinct at one and the same time.

5Saray Chavez, Nathalie Molines, Katia Chancibault, and Bernard de Gouvello (“Planning for climate change with the best of intentions… Analyzing content of plans and planners rationale for adaptation”) analyse the content of the planning and sustainable development project of the local urban plan of the city of Nantes (France). More specifically, they focus on its thematic analysis, before interviewing their authors in order to take a closer look at the logics behind planning choices made. Their examination helps us understand how discourses dealing witn adaptation are structured, at the same time as local actors reflect on the limitations of their own proposals.

6It may be this reflective distance that makes it hard to analyse and criticise urban design practices, as Anthony Ximenez explains (“What is wrong with urban regeneration practices? Towards a Foucauldian analysis of urban regeneration documents”). To overcome this difficulty, the author proposes using the Foucauldian concept of “positivity”. This “relates to the discursive rules that need to be followed for a statement to be considered ‘knowledge’ in a specific discipline and at a specific moment in history”. Ximenez applies this concept to the analysis of a diagnosis, making explicit the discursive rules that underly the reasoning laid out in the document. 

7In the second part, two texts look specially at mobility. Jianyu Chen, Philippe Gerber, and Thierry Ramadier (“A Psycho-Social Exploration of Cross-Border Mobilities. A Mixed-Method among Franco-Luxembourgish Commuters”) show how mobility practices are influenced by factors other than access to transport infrastructure. The authors use a combination of statistical and discursive analyses to understand more specifically how social representations shape mobility practices among French-Luxembourgian commuters.

8Eleonore Pigalle (“What are the impacts of teleworking on activity-travel behaviour? A text mining study”) examines the recomposition of mobility practices occasioned by remote working. The author has chosen to focus on the as-yet-insufficiently-studied adaptation strategies of teleworkers and members of their households. Her textual analysis of the material gathered via interviews shows that teleworking makes it possible to adjust mobility strategies within households.

9The third section contains two articles that focus on parts of the Global South. Monique Bertrand (“Emerging peri-urban voices in Africa: Bamako through the lens of land conflicts in online media”) delves into online media in order to show how peri-urban areas, which barely figure in national political debates, are gaining in importance in public discourse. A textual analysis (Alceste method) helps reveal the tensions aroused by land conflicts, bringing to light specific registers for framing claims and denunciations that are likely to support criticism of state governance.

10Finally, Anak Agung Ayu Suci Warakanyaka (“Mind-walking through Instagram: extracting the essences of Jakarta’s street vending”) analyses Instagram accounts in order to explore socio-spatial configurations of street-selling in Jakarta. The method employed by the author is designed to be a non-intrusive form of ethnography of a singular type of urban planning. Her study reveals the key components of street-selling activities. Despite the lack of official data, it is possible to show the importance of these configurations in creating urban quality.

11Thus, the articles brought together in Issue 24 of Articulo — Journal of Urban Research reflect contemporary developments in discourse analysis, showing how textual or visual analyses of urban discourses help us better understand urban practices and policies.

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Buhler, T., Lethier, V., 2019. Analysing urban policy discourses using textometry: An application to French urban transport plans (2000-2015). Urban Studies.
DOI : 10.1177/0042098019873824

Heiden, S., Magué, J-P., Pincemin, B., 2010. TXM : Une plateforme logicielle open-source pour la textométrie – conception et développement. In S. Bolasco, I. Chiari, L. Giuliano (Ed.), Proc. of 10th International Conference on the Statistical Analysis of Textual Data, Vol. 2, p. 1021-1032.

Lebart, L., Salem, A., 1994. Statistique textuelle. Dunod, Paris.

Ratinaud, P., 2009 Iramuteq : interface de R pour les analyses multidimensionnelles de textes et de questionnaires,

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Electronic reference

Thomas Buhler, Samuel Carpentier-Postel and Laurent Matthey, “Introduction”Articulo - Journal of Urban Research [Online], 24 | 2024, Online since 08 May 2024, connection on 20 June 2024. URL:; DOI:

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About the authors

Thomas Buhler

Université de Franche-Comté,CNRS,ThéMA, F-25000 Besançon, France. Institut Universitaire de France.

Samuel Carpentier-Postel

Université de Franche-Comté,CNRS,ThéMA, F-25000 Besançon, France. Institut Universitaire de France.

Laurent Matthey

Université de Genève, Département de géographie et environnement et UMR AAU – équipe CRESSON

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The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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