Political Rescaling and Municipal Cultural Public Policies: A Comparison of France and Québec


Do territories change public policies? This would appear to be a rather unusual research orientation. It is even a reversal of the most commonly accepted approaches to the study of territorial public action, which tend to look at this issue from the opposite perspective, that is, in examining how public policies affect territories. The municipal reforms that have simultaneously occurred in Québec and France since the late 1990s afford an excellent opportunity to consider this inversion of the issues. To do so, we take as our theme culture and municipal cultural policies. We try to define and understand to what extent there exist in Québec and France retroactive links between municipal restructuring and municipal decisions about cultural facilities and activities and, more generally, municipal cultural intervention in the urban milieu. This comparative analysis of the cases of France and Québec focuses on discourse as well as achievements. First, we look at the changes arising from institutional reforms in the supply of cultural activities, budgets devoted to culture, and cultural policies. We then consider culture as a vector in the construction of a new municipal institution and a new municipal territory.