Spaces and Societies (ESO)

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The ESO Joint Research Unit is historically grounded in social geography research. Its scientific activity has, however, continued to develop and enrich itself, always dealing with the spatial dimension of social relations and the study of all forms of inequalities. Researchers from the disciplines represented in ESO-Rennes, such as geography, urban planning, sociology, environmental psychology, territorial economy, demography, etc., focus on some of the central issues of contemporary society and analyse the challenges in terms of inequalities in spaces through which action and power flow.


Research Topics

Productions, differentiations and sharing of space

How are places and territories made? As regards meanings and values, how are they set in motion and where are they circulating? By combining mechanisms of relegation, spatial segregation and the ongoing peri-urbanization, our work analyses the processes of differentiation of spaces and the evolution of forms of inequality.

Practices, experiments and representations of space

How do pathways (educational, criminal, care, life, occupational, residential, migratory) and social provisions influence, or even structure, the spatial practices, representations and mobility of individuals? An approach encompassing surroundings allows us to observe how they emerge and affect people’s experience.

Spatialized construction of political action: between the ordinary and the institutional

Everything that participates in the construction of a public space is studied here: public policies, collective actions such as mass rallies, situations of conflict and social interaction in the public space. The objective is to delineate political action, from the most ordinary facts to the most institutionalized policies.

Theories, interdisciplinarity, methods

Several areas of methodological expertise are developed at ESO-Rennes (often in partnership with the State, local authorities and the socio-economic world). They include the following: (a) design of systems for collecting and analysing mobility in its broad meaning, involving, for example, the definition of GPS specifications and the use of accelerometers, (b) qualification, using GIS tools, of the urban contexts in which people move, using occupational timetables, implementing commented itineraries, experimenting with in-car interviews and defining methods for collecting urban environments, (c) spatio-temporal analysis of daily mobility in relation to the life cycle of individuals, cognitive maps, (d) biographical surveys, (e) photographic observation.


Key Figures: 111 lecturer-researchers, 10 CNRS researchers and 120 PhD students / At Rennes 2: 38 lecturer-researchers, 4 CNRS researchers and 31 PhD students registered /  7  supervisions: CNRS, Universities of Angers, Caen, Le Mans, Nantes, Rennes 2, Agrocampus Ouest / 1 partner institution: EHESP School of Public Health



International collaborations with ESO-Rennes: Quebec (University of Quebec in Montreal, Laval), Latin America (Colombia, Brazil, Mexico), Africa (Mali, Senegal), Near East (Turkey, Syria), Europe (Italy, Romania, Germany). • Three ANR projects led by ESO-Rennes: MOBIKIDS (role of urban educational cultures in the evolution of children’s daily mobilities and life contexts), MIGSAN (Migration and health: health experiences and care trajectories of newly-arrived people in France), PERI#WORK (collaborative work spaces as nodes of a new mobility system outside metropolitan France). ESO-Rennes is also a partner in two ANR projects: MARIS (Management and risk analysis of an invasive plant) and REPESO (Repressing and caring: an empirical study of the health-criminal justice nexus). • Collection of ESO scientific publications: