Les frontières au quotidien? Modes de vie dans l'agglomération trinationale de Bâle

The gradual opening of borders, which occurred over the past few decades have dramatically altered their role and function. Although these evolutions were not uniform, they have enabled the development of cross-border regions, which are characterized by a high diversity of opportunities for both sides of the border. These include but are not limited to employment and income, increased access to goods and services, and so on. But not everyone is able to or interested in crossing the border. They may be unaware of cross-border opportunities, lack the linguistic skills or the motivation. As such, the relation to the border and to the territories located beyond it is highly individual. With a specific focus on the trinational city of Basel, this study uses the concepts of motility and lifestyle to examine how a border influences the daily lives of people who live in a cross-border region. This study uses a mixed method design, combining contextual, qualitative (15 interviews) and quantitative data (1615 individuals). The findings indicate that, even as the border continues to play an important role in the daily lives of inhabitants, cross-border mobility is a significant feature defining their lifestyles. More than a third of the local population cross the borders for leisure or consumption activities and tens of thousands are cross-border workers. In terms of social networks, however, the study finds that the border tends to act more as a barrier. Finally, the cross-borderness of the city of Basel is deeply embedded in the city's identity to which a majority of the region inhabitants feel attached (about 75%). Even the individuals who never cross the border consider the cross-border situation of Basel an advantage. Inhabitants on the French side of the city are most active in "cross-border" activities, while the Swiss lifestyles are the least. Whereas Switzerland, as employment and metropolitan centre, and Germany, as an inexpensive destination, attract people from beyond their national borders for leisure or consumption activities, the French part seems to play a secondary role in this urban area. Even as individual characteristics, such as income or cross-border worker status, clearly have a large effect on lifestyle spatiality in cross-border regions, applying the concept of motility (Kaufmann, Bergman, & Joye 2004), provides important new and complementary findings. This concept makes it possible to address several questions linked to mobility practices in these regions, such as accessibility, the lack of motivation and interest for cross-border opportunities, the lack of skills (linguistic or social) and local knowledge, and so on. More generally, the work carried out underlines the need to better integrate social skills and spatial curiosity, into the understanding of mobility. Finally, the opening of borders may also have negative impacts on the inhabitants of these regions. Even if the overall cohesion of Basel is relatively good, there exists three structural weaknesses identified in other contexts. These include 1) the large differences in the living conditions between cross-border and non-cross-border workers, 2) the large motorized flows, 3) the functional and social specialization of the territories of the city. These weaknesses underline the need for stronger governance to regulate flows across borders carefully in order to mitigate the negative impacts of and utilize the opportunities associated with the opening of borders

Kaufmann, Vincent
Bergman, Manfred Max
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis7680-7

Note: The status of this file is: EPFL only

 Record created 2017-06-12, last modified 2019-05-09

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