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Participatory management of an urban world heritage site: The Table de Concertation du Vieux-Québec

Mathieu Dormaels (Département d'études urbaines et touristiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 16 May 2016




Within the general context of the Historic Urban Landscape approach and the promotion of community involvement in heritage site management, the purpose of this paper is to describe and to understand the case of Old Québec in order to analyse the management tools put in place, so as not only to grasp the issues and challenges, but also to find out how these tools are perceived by the local actors directly involved.


The conceptual approach of this study is twofold. On the one hand, the author has adopted a phenomenological perspective of heritage, where heritage is understood as a social construction. On the other hand, because the goal of this study is to understand an initiative produced by local actors, the author chose an empirical approach that fosters first a descriptive and then an interpretive analysis of a phenomenon with potentially complex dynamics. To do so, the author chose to conduct the research by carrying out a case study, by using three methods of data collection: non-participating observation, semi-structured interviews and document analysis.


By analysing this case in its context, this research gives a better understanding of this community based initiative of participatory management in the world heritage site of the historic district of Old Québec. It demonstrate how these processes involves issues and challenges, even in a 20 years old inscribed site. It also highlights key elements for this type of initiative that, beyond this case, may be useful to be considered by site managers.

Research limitations/implications

As with any case study, this research is highly dependent on the context, and that constitutes the main limitation. Consequently, the findings of this analysis can only be generalized as recommendations. Other case studies should be conducted to better understand the influence of context, and to bring out similarities between various initiatives.


More than “best practices”, whose relevance may be questionable for their lack of consideration of the context, this paper aims to provide an example of participatory management and to indicate some key elements that seem to be useful for this kind of initiatives. It also raises important questions on the relevance of such management tools in context less experienced or without previous involvement of local communities. Finally, it proposes a conceptual framework and a methodological approach for the study of such cases.



Dormaels, M. (2016), "Participatory management of an urban world heritage site: The Table de Concertation du Vieux-Québec", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 14-33.



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