Archipels, Territoires et mObilités famiLiaLes

Archipelagos, territories and family mobility


The objective of the project is to analyse the sustainability of Polynesian territorial organisation by focusing on migration, families and policies. Based on an examination of the organization of families, their anchors and the mobility trajectories of the individuals who compose them, we wish to identify the mechanisms at the origin of mobility or, on the contrary, the anchoring of populations on the Polynesian territory. In this archipelagic territory, our objective is to evaluate the role of the establishment of public services (education, health, transport), economic development zones, and more generally the territorial organization supported by all policies on population dynamics. It will also be necessary to take into account the position of this Oceanic territory in relation to other areas (France, New Caledonia, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, etc.) as potential destinations, in particular for educational and health mobility.


French Polynesia is considered here as a reticular settlement system where intermediate spaces do not exist. It is an open space where the family network and its solidarity make it possible to overcome insularity. A space whose negative migratory balance is increasing and where there is intense polarization in the local "metro-pole" (Tahiti Island and its capital Papeete) where the port and airport hub is located. But also an area made up of 118 islands grouped into 5 archipelagos and spread over a territory as vast as Europe, whose most remote islands are almost 2000 km apart.


Economic development and the concentration of public services in the capital explain the densification of the urban area of Papeete over the past 50 years. This concentration has resulted today in a major housing crisis coupled with an economic crisis that may be at the root of the current decline towards the archipelagos. The role and location of public services (education, health, transport) subject to the obligation of territorial continuity must then show strong resilience in a society where almost one in two individuals has changed homes in the space of five years.


This project presents a unique opportunity to analyze the sustainability of territorial systems from a triple entry point: places and territories; families and relationships; individuals and their journey. The analyses envisaged, whether quantitative or qualitative, will therefore explore family functioning, public mechanisms and individual characteristics that make it possible to transcend insularity. In other words, the envisaged multi-scale analysis will make it possible to understand the tension that may exist between access to services, family solidarity, territorial anchors and, more generally, the maintenance of populations over such a vast territory.


Supported by a multidisciplinary team (geographers, demographers, sociologists, statisticians and politicians), our project is based on a double partnership with the UMR SAGE of the University of Strasbourg and UMR IDEES of the University of Rouen and the Institut de statistique de Polynésie française (ISPF) which participates in the project as part of various collections already programmed and financed (the 2018 employment survey, the 2019 survey on family, housing and distance relations).


This project, which is original in many respects, combines the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative materials. It is part of a renewal of questions around the family and proposes a new quantitative analysis on a territory until then little described. More generally, it makes it possible to reinterview work on the sustainability of territories based on a geographical archetype.