Social question, urban question: inside and outside neighbourhoods in crisis - There is an excess of complacency over the neighbourhood and space in general in the construction of policy categories. These categories are only apparently reassuring, while they maintain all their traditional ambiguities. The ready acceptance of an integrated and local model of neighbourhood policies appears suspect in a disciplinary context where the explanatory power of the spatial variable has always been overestimated. However, the ‘out-of-place’ introduce problems from which part of the ‘normally’ poor population suffers to a certain extent: the most difficult and ‘extreme’ hardship exemplified by the homeless and illegal settlements is not only not insignificant, but above all it throws light on the current nature of hardship and on the factors and difficulties of social policies. This explains the disconcerting phase of inauspicious government initiatives: not only are policies that are uncaring becoming generalised, but they are also making lack of care a choice which creates exclusion and abandonment.