CE41 - Inégalités, discriminations, migrations

For sustainable and inclusive urban nights – SMARTNIGHTS


For sustainable and inclusive urban nights


The initial objective of the Smartnights research programme is to create a knowledge base for developing sustainable public policies for student nightlife in medium-sized university cities (Montpellier, Reims, Grenoble and Lyon as benchmark cities). Indeed, notions such as the «24-hour city« or the «festive city« not only underline the importance of the urban night in the revitalisation of many de-industrialised cities but also the increasing «nocturnalisation« of daily life in Western society. The economy of the night has become one of the keys to the urban economy, to the marketing strategy of urban authorities. However, beyond this potential, the development of nightlife is also characterized by negative trends such as forms of social and spatial fragmentation, made visible through the expression of conflicts. The research programme makes it possible to decode the sources of conflict between students and residents (noise pollution, land impacts, social integration, etc.), and the mechanisms creating socio-spatial inequalities in the face of the «right to night« that is emerging from the recent expansion of nightlife. Ultimately, the definition of a «night dweller« will emerge from the analyses. <br /> <br />The objectives of this programme are <br />- Analyze public policies, regulations and governance of nightlife in the case studies. <br />- Gain a better understanding of students' night-time consumption patterns <br />- To identify the impacts on residents of the development of student nightlife and their responses to the nuisances produced. <br />- Develop coherent public policies to encourage the establishment of sustainable urban nights and ensure peaceful coexistence between different social groups.

Nightlife Governance, Policies & Regulation
- Document and statistics analyses
- Stakeholders interviews
- Data analysis
Nightlife Consumption
- Quantitative analysis (online questionnaire)
- Statistical analysis
- Qualitative analysis (Ethnographic fieldwork)
- Individual interviews and focus group with university students
- Data analysis
Nightlife temporal conflicts
- Individual interviews with local residents
- Data analysis

Public policies, governance and regulations: only thought of as festive and frequented by students, the night is little and poorly represented in urban policies: other practitioners and those excluded from it are ignored. Its management is seen from the point of view of conflict, nuisance and insecurity. But urban marketing is developing a contradictory vision where the night is thought of as an urban resource through events in order to attract high-income and highly educated populations.
Nocturnal uses of the city by students:
In its social, racial and spatial dimensions, the night economy remains clearly fragmented. It is dominated by white youth (15-35 years old), while populations of non-European origin, the less wealthy social classes, women and older people are more or less excluded.
The recent increase in student populations makes them the driving force behind this festive life. For them, the night is also a space where they can experience a feeling of freedom but also learn how to manage excess.
The expansion of this night economy is leading to increasing problems of noise and anti-social or violent behaviour linked to excessive alcohol and drug use.
This must be seen in the context of the unpreparedness for the increase of various nightlife problems in many university cities. Indeed, many cities are discovering an increase in serious problems concerning the coexistence of residents and alcoholic nightlife. Festive life is commodified (within private spaces) and polarised (in the city centre), leading to the creation of conflicts due to overcrowding concentrated in certain urban spaces with problems of noise, cleanliness, degradation, security, etc. This leads to a high level of conflict which elected representatives find it difficult to manage because they have not given it much thought or integrated it into marketing or tourism development plans.

The crisis caused by the Covid 19 epidemic has in a few days removed this festive night from the public and collective space. This poses various problems that will probably leave a lasting mark on it.
The economic impact is already considerable: in France, the festive night brings in as many people as the chemical industry (100,000 people), often already quite precarious and today poorly protected by emergency measures. The number of bankruptcies and unemployment are likely to be very high in this sector. Cities often derive significant income from it, which has evaporated, not to mention the temporary extinction of the tourism that this activity supported .
Night users have withdrawn to residential areas where private practices, sometimes shared online, remain. However, the psychological impacts are likely to be significant. At the same time, initial survey results show a certain resignation on the part of users who anticipate a short break. Their consumption of alcohol, drugs and even the intensity of their sexual practice seems to have regressed.
However, it will be difficult to imagine a resumption of activities at pre-crisis levels before probably 6 months to a year. Coupled with distancing measures that reduce interactions and attendance, this will have a very significant psychological as well as economic impact and perhaps even lead to more profound changes that are difficult to anticipate.
While many cities had policies that simply managed nuisance, cities will finally have to develop more comprehensive policies.

*GIORDANO, E., MANELLA, G., CROZAT, D. (2019), The spatio-temporal geographies of public spaces at night and their regulation as source of conflict. The cases of Montpellier and Bologna, Espace populations sociétés
*GUÉRIN, F. (2019), Los desafíos socio-antropológicos, políticos y de planificación del noctambulismo en Paris y Madrid. In SERRANO, R. O.(dir.), Movilidad Urbana y Espacio Público, Bogotá: Programa de Ingeniería Civil de la Universidad Piloto de Colombia, pp. 56-95
*MALLET, S. (2020), « Les rythmes de la production urbaine au prisme de l’accélération sociale. », EspacesTemps.net, 02/2020
*GIORDANO, E., GWIAZDZINSKI, L. (2018), «La notte urbana, una nuova frontiera per la ricerca geografica in Italia«, Rivista geografia italiana, vol. 125, n° 3, pp. 437-454
*DE RAPHELIS, M. (2020), « La nuit, tout est permis ? ». Urbia, Hors Série n° 7
*GIORDANO, E., CROZAT, D. (2018), “Nightlife and urban change in Southern European cities: The case of Montpellier”, in Eldridge, A., Nofre, J., Giordano, E. (eds.) Exploring nightlife. Space, society and governance, London, Rowan & Littlefield
*GUÉRIN, F. (2019), « Quel(s) droit(s) aux nuits festives parisiennes ? Analyse critique de la gouvernance de la vie nocturne », Métropolitiques
*MAGGIOLI, M., GWIAZDZINSKI, L., STRAW, W. (2019) (dir.), Geografie della notte, Dossier revue Bollettino della Società Geografica Italiana
*GIORDANO, E., NOFRE, J., CROZAT, D. (2019) La touristification de la vie nocturne : une nouvelle frontière pour la recherche sur la nuit urbaine. Cybergeo
*GUÉRIN, F. (2020), « Les nuits urbaines de jeunes explorateurs à pied ». FLEURY, A., FRETIGNY, J.-B., KANELLOPOULOU, D. (dir.), Passages en commun. Les mobilités à l’épreuve de l’espace public
*GWIAZDZINSKI, L., MAGGIOLI, M., STRAW, W. (2020), Night studies, Seyssinet-Pariset, Elya éditions
*DESCHAMPS, C., GUÉRIN, F., HERNANDEZ, E. (2020), Nuit. Mobilités Urbaines Pédestres, Dictionnaire de la marche en ville, Paris : L’Œil d’Or

Concepts such as “the 24-hour open city” or “the leisure city” highlight not only the importance of the urban night in the revitalization of many post-industrial cities but also the growing nocturnalization of everyday life in Western society. The night-time economy has become a key feature of the urban economy, a crucial element of many city’s branding strategy and international reputation, and an important factor in tourism competitiveness .Yet, despite these potentialities, the development of nightlife is also characterized by negative trends. The night-time economy remains clearly segmented socially, racially and spatially. It is strongly dominated by white youth (15-35 years) and non-whites, the lower social classes, women and elderly people are (to some extent) excluded. At the same time, the recent expansion of the night-time economy causes problems like increased noise pollution and anti-social or violent behaviors often related to excessive alcohol and drugs consumption (Gwiazdzinski, 2007).
Despite the growing number of studies concerned with these dynamics , some issues remain unaddressed in existing night-time studies. In particular, the effects produced by the recent expansion of university student-oriented nightlife in several medium-size university cities have received little attention. This might be related to the existing lack of preparedness for the current rise of several nightlife-related problems in numerous medium-size university cities (Crozat, 2008). Indeed several cities are experiencing an increase of critical problems regarding the co-existence of residential communities and alcohol-fueled nightlife entertainment uses (Nofre et al., 2017; Nofre et al., 2018). These dynamics are currently undermining community liveability during night-time hours and putting at risk the sustainable coexistence of diverse urban social groups.
The aim of this project is to form the knowledge basis to develop sustainable university student-oriented nightlife policies in medium-size university cities, by unravelling the sources of inequalities and conflicts that arise from the recent expansion of university student-oriented nightlife. -In this study, night life is defined as the consumption practices and social activities realized at night time by youth and people in other age groups that take place in the public space or in nightlife establishments, such as pubs, clubs, cinemas and theatres, as well as in facilities and events specifically dedicated to students-. These issues are clearly a theoretical scope but they cannot find answer only as part of a rigorous empirical approach through a reasoned comparison method. The project combines researchers who have demonstrated by their work (theses of doctorate and publications) of their ability to explore on one hand the evolution of the urban night and on the other hand the experience of the young people. The consortium will conduct an un-depth study on the nocturnal experiences of university students in four medium-sized university cities: 1) Montpellier 2) Reims, 3) Lyon, 4) Grenoble .

Project coordinator

Monsieur Dominique CROZAT (Acteurs, ressources et territoires dans le développement)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


ART-Dev Acteurs, ressources et territoires dans le développement
PACTE Pacte - Laboratoire de sciences sociales

Help of the ANR 332,986 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: November 2018 - 36 Months

Useful links

Sign up for the latest news:
Subscribe to our newsletter