The New Urban Left: Parties Without Actors


One of the hallmarks of late political modernity may be that grassroots groups and urban social movements are fixed in increasingly distal relations with left of center parties. We examine the history of these relations in the city of Montreal, where there has been an historic progression from left parties, with significant constituencies, to parties without local actors. The 1994 municipal election in Montreal is reviewed in this light. Our findings indicate, however, that urban movements have developed a ‘transfunctionality’. This places them in a conflict‐laden stance to urban social policy, by signaling that which has been excluded from that relationship, through the arbitrariness of the service function they have taken on. These transformations have ushered them away from protest activities and towards a politics of everyday life (needs satisfactions, well‐being), increasing their base constituencies, while lowering their ideological and rhetorical positions. Grassroots groups are bringing an unaccustomed political diversity into the discourse of the traditional and new urban left. These are not programmatic rehearsals, in search of a reworked or revised totality, but rather represent strategically placed claims to appropriate greater political, social and cultural spaces around issues of mutuality, self‐help and effective local power