INRS: documenting inequalities to inform decision-making

This text is part of the special notebook 55 years of INRS

Researchers from the INRS Urbanization Culture Society Center look at a multitude of contemporary subjects of study, the results of which help to build the policies of tomorrow.

Urban studies professor and researcher Nathan McClintock is interested in equity as it relates to urban environmental issues. “I’ve worked on urban agriculture and food systems, food justice issues and green gentrification,” he says. The questions of citizen participation, inclusion or exclusion of marginalized populations, often racialized, in urban planning processes, are all research subjects on which the professor focuses.

“In Portland and Vancouver, I worked on green gentrification. Two cities well known for their sustainable development policies, but which suffer from inequalities between populations,” notes Mr. McClintock. His research highlights how investments in green infrastructure are important, but lead to new, more affluent populations moving into these new neighborhoods, while pushing less well-off residents to be displaced. “The question is therefore: how can these cities integrate policies that aim to protect these populations? » he said. Its research shows that investments aimed at solving environmental problems should not be made in isolation, but should take into consideration issues of housing, employment and support for local small and medium-sized businesses.

Montreal attracted Mr. McClintock precisely because of its greening policies which, according to him, take more into account other policies, notably those on social housing. His interest in sustainable food and urban greenhouses has led him to several projects, including CommunoSerre, which assesses the potential for socio-technological integration of community greenhouses in disadvantaged urban areas.

Youth, at the heart of research

María Eugenia Longo is co-holder of the Quebec Youth Research Network Chair. As a sociologist of work, she works on numerous subjects relating to professional integration and job insecurity among young people. “We produce, for example, the most recent portraits on employment and the latest historical trends on the dynamics of the labor market in relation to youth,” she emphasizes.

According to the researcher, INRS served as a pillar to create the first resources that could guide Quebec youth policy over the last 30 years. “You should know that the modernization of Quebec is deeply linked to the development of thinking about youth. This is not only an object of research, but it also supports reflection on the social and economic development of the province and serves as a field of observation for major social innovations and transformation, whether on relationships with work or on new sources of social inequalities and vulnerability,” she says.

At this moment, Mme Longo explores social intervention programs and integrated solutions, green jobs as well as the issue of employment vulnerabilities, particularly in the context of shortages. “Today, most vacant positions are lower paid and less qualified, while there is an increasingly qualified youth, with higher expectations,” she notes. Having large-scale partnerships and political bodies involved in research also allows INRS researchers to have an impact on the ground.

Social mobility

Xavier Saint-Denis is the director of the Social Statistics Study Group at INRS. “The initiative of this group is to pool the strengths of different colleagues and students at INRS and in Quebec to share our strategies and knowledge in order to innovate in terms of data production. This group aims to create new indicators from raw data which belongs to a ministry and which we will work on and which we will analyze to obtain new information,” he adds.

Much of his research focuses on issues of social mobility. “And what we call the intergenerational transmission of socio-economic status or inequalities,” he explains. The researcher analyzes the process of transmission of resources, particularly economic resources, from one generation to the next, particularly between the first and second generations of immigrants. This allows him to analyze how inequalities are reproduced according to different groups in society. Because if education is a key factor in social mobility, his research has shown that other factors come into play. “We notice that the second generation of immigrants often has a higher educational level than the general population, regardless of the level of education and income of the parents; it happens more at the level of the transmission of aspirations,” he notes.

These data analyzes allow us to better understand movements in society, as well as a very precise immigration system. Mr. Saint-Denis also reflects on the contribution of geographic mobility to the intergenerational transmission of income in Quebec. His research proves that changing region promotes social mobility and therefore higher income for young people who grew up outside large cities.

This content was produced by the Special Publications team at Duty, relating to marketing. The writing of the Duty did not take part.

To watch on video

source site-40