The idea for this book was first put forward during a joint seminar held in Turin with the Istituto di Studi Superiori di Scienze Umane del Politecnico di Torino. We would like to thank, in particular, Prof. Carlo Olmo, chief of the ISSU for his support and encouragement.
The book was then prepared during one of a series of three-day seminars organised by the Observatoire du Changement social en Europe Occidentale in Poitiers in June 1996, and the European doctoral summer school that we run at the same time. We are therefore grateful to the Fondation pour l'innovation et la Prospective du Futuroscope de Poiters. We wish to thank le président René Monory, Olivier Cazenave and Michel Roger for their continuous interest and financial support.
On the academic side, Henri Mendras and Vincent Wright provided some of the sharp, constructive criticisms that have been their hallmark for many years. We also thank the Ph.D. students who presented their work and discussed our thesis.
Nathalie Ingremeau was once again the driving force behind the project: it was a privilege to work with her. We also wish to thank Mireille Clémençon for preparing the manuscript, and the translators, Simon Lee and Neil Cooper.
The book first appeared in French as Villes en Europe, published in Paris by Les Editions de La Découverte. This is a slightly revised version.
We have just learned that Vincent Wright's final fight against cancer is over – terribly sad news for all those who knew this extraordinary character. We were lucky to work with him for many years and this book was the last of the Poitiers series he organised with us.