This research, which uses an intersectional feminist methodological approach, explores the relationships and intersections among women, public urban space, and bicycling, and the gendered processes through which the use of space is claimed, negotiated, and constrained. It builds on the existing scholarship on the gendered nature of public space, and uniquely uses bicycling as the site of inquiry. Drawing primarily from interviews with women cyclists in Chicago, this article explores how gender and other social identities are constructed, challenged, and constituted through an interaction with public space, urban processes and structures, and societal expectations and attitudes. It brings to the forefront and centers these narratives and empirically contextualizes them by linking the scholarship on the gendered (and raced, classed, and sexualized) nature of public space with the scholarship on women’s participation rates and barriers to bicycling. This research examines, through the everyday lived experiences of bicyclists and their multiple subject positions and privileges, how the gendered nature of public space affects the participation and experiences of women cyclists; how public space is negotiated and constrained; and how gender can be both (re)produced and challenged in and through urban space via women bicyclists’ actions. In particular, the research findings explore how women bicyclists must demand and negotiate public space; how their movement and activities are constrained in public space; how gender roles and social reproduction issues intersect with bicycling; and how social, quasi-advocacy group bicycle rides are used as a strategy, with mixed results, to address barriers to women bicyclists’ mobility.
Through an exploratory study of romantic heterosexual couples in a public park situated in Hanoi’s outskirts, this article offers a conceptual rethinking of a western understanding of the park’s public/private dichotomy which can then be used to better appreciate how these categories are evolving in western urbanizing societies and their impacts on gender relations. By developing a relational, spatialized understanding of how young romantic couples justify their ‘transgressive’ displays of sexual intimacy in public spaces in contemporary urban Vietnam, this article focuses on how couples, especially women, manage their visibility. This analysis confronts the public civilizational discourse on Vietnamese sexual restraint by analyzing how young couples justify their romantic displays by creating an intimate space within a public environment. This space of visible intimacy is justified through their commitment to marriage. For the individuals involved in these romantic couples, visibility is justified, particularly for young women, through the enjoyment of a newly gained sexual autonomy as they migrate to the city.
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (2013)
Chaskin, R. J., & Joseph, M. L.
Public policies supporting market-oriented strategies to develop mixed-income communities have become ascendant in the United States and a number of other countries around the world. Although framed as addressing both market goals of revitalization and social goals of poverty deconcentration and inclusion, these efforts at 'positive gentrification' also generate a set of fundamental tensions - between integration and exclusion, use value and exchange value, appropriation and control, poverty and development - that play out in particular concrete ways on the ground. Drawing on social control theory and the 'right to the city' framework of Henri Lefebvre, this article interrogates these tensions as they become manifest in three mixed-income communities being developed to replace public housing complexes in Chicago, focusing particularly on responses to competing expectations regarding the use of space and appropriate normative behavior, and to the negotiation of these expectations in the context of arguments about safety, order, what constitutes 'public' space, and the nature and extent of rights to use that space in daily life.
Art festivals are a feature of many urban districts undergoing gentrification; they help to catalyze change by drawing a set of consumers with particular cultural interests. This article examines whether the arts produce racial exclusions by examining long-term Black and White residents’ participation in and perceptions of the monthly Last Thursday Art Walks in Portland’s gentrifying Alberta Arts District. We use surveys to measure arts participation and follow-up, in-depth interviews to understand whether long-time residents feel excluded by the arts, and if race is a factor. We find that Black residents participate less in Last Thursdays than White residents, and they often feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. We conclude that the arts-anchored symbolic economy results in racial exclusions that have little to do with differences in arts appreciation, but much to do with perceptions of people associated with the arts, and with residents’ abilities to use the arts to identify with neighborhood changes.
This article analyses post-apartheid public spaces through social and spatial practices at the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront mall in Cape Town. Our empirical evidence suggests that these public spaces involve much more than just consumption patterns, as they sustain and support novel ways of asserting social identities in a new political situation. These changes are, however, quite complex and fraught with ambivalence. Consequently, we scrutinize how race is staged in that space, and how racial diversity produces various kinds of boundaries. We then argue that these urban practices lead us to an understanding of the precarious balance between private and public spaces. We propose the notion of ‘publicization’ – the process whereby private spaces acquire a more public dimension.
Throughout late antiquity, long after the collapse of the Roman administrative system, Augusta Emerita (Mérida, Spain) retained its role as a primary center for economic, political, religious, and social exchanges. However, the nature and the physical setting of many of those interactions changed significantly in this period. In particular, Emerita’s archaeological record from the fourth and fifth centuries confirms a trend away from the classical ideals that had contributed to the city’s early urban structure. This article argues that the sweeping urban changes experienced by the city are not just symptomatic of economic decline but that these changes should also be taken as important examples of the ongoing vitality of the Late Antique city center. As residents and officials encountered a new set of economic, political, religious, and social demands, they reshaped their urban environment to adapt to these new circumstances. The end result is most clearly distinguished in the remains of the late fifth-century city, but this post-Roman city has its roots in the Late Roman context of the fourth century.
Bork-Hüffer, T., Etzold, B., Gransow, B., Tomba, L., Sterly, H., Suda, K., Kraas, F., & Flock, R.
Internal migration within Asian countries and international migration to, within, and out of Asia have been on the rise throughout the past decades. As types and pathways of migration, migrants’ sociocultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and their transnational and translocal trajectories become increasingly diverse, a majority of them move to cities. Diverging power geometries and relations are constantly negotiated and (re)produced in the sociospatial dialectic of the city. Through their individual and collective agency, assets, and knowledge, mobile subjects have become important agents in the (re)production of spaces in cities, whereas the socio-political and physical conditions of spaces frame their livelihoods, opportunities, and agency. Research on migrants’ agency has intensified recently, but the specific modes through which agency operates in the socio-spatial dialectic still need to be conceptualised. We develop a framework that outlines different modes through which agents and space interact. The framework is exemplified through papers on case studies from Dhaka and the Pearl River Delta (PRD) that are part of this special issue. Dhaka and the PRD have been characterised by accelerated growth throughout the past decades, particularly due to the influx of rural-to-urban migrants, but they also receive an increasing number of international migrants. We conclude that through their diverse, multi-sited, and translocal relations and activities stretching beyond the receiving cities in a context of constant transformation, migrants’ practices contribute to the emergence of a specific type of urban spaces that we delineate as transient urban spaces.
Previous gang research has focused primarily on the attributes of individuals who join gangs. This ecological study of violent urban youth gangs examines the social, economic, and physical organization of places where gangs locate. Our goal is to understand those features of communities that either facilitate the formation of gangs or insulate an area from gang formation. By interviewing gang members and having them map places where they came together as a sociological group to “hang out,” we study what we label as the “set space” of gangs. Our study is analogous to criminological studies of where criminal acts occur rather than of the factors that lead an individual to commit criminal acts. This study indicates that gang set space is usually a very small geographic area, much smaller than neighborhoods or even census tracts. A probability (logit) model estimates the influence of various local area attributes on the presence of violent youth gangs in census block groups. Diminished social control—in the absence of capable guardians and physical abandonment of place—and underclass features increase the likelihood of observing violent youth gangs hanging out in a particular area.
The article concentrates on emerging relationships between physical characteristics of urban open spaces and their uses. It draws on a combination of behaviour mapping and geographic information system (GIS) techniques - as applied to urban squares and parks in two European cities, Edinburgh (UK) and Ljubljana (Slovenia) - to reveal common patterns of behaviour that appear to be correlated with particular layouts and details. It shows actual dimensions of effective environments for one use or more of them and shows how design guidance can be arrived at, based on the particulars of the case study sites and cities. In addition, the value of this article is in exploring GIS, a tool that is currently irreplaceable in spatial analysis and planning processes for urban areas, as a detailed analytical and visualisation tool that helps to describe inner structure of places revealed by behaviour patterns.
Over the last 30 years, social theorists have increasingly emphasized the importance of space. However, in empirical research, the dialectical relationship between social interaction and the physical environment is still a largely neglected issue. Using the theory of structuration, I provide a concrete example of why and how space matters in the cultural analysis of an urban social world. I argue that bike messengers—individuals who deliver time-sensitive materials in downtown cores of major cities—cannot be understood outside an analysis of space. Specifically, I connect the cultural significance of messenger practices to the emplacement of those practices inside the urban environment.
This paper explores the question what kind of educational work can be done in attempts to reclaim or reinvigorate the public sphere. Through a discussion of the intersection of public sphere and public space, it engages with the work of Hannah Arendt in order to outline a conception of the public sphere as a space for civic action based on distance and the conservation of a degree strangeness rather than on commonality and common identity. The discussion of the educational work that can be done to support the public quality of common spaces and places focuses on three interpretations of the idea of public pedagogy: that of public pedagogy as a pedagogy for the public, that of public pedagogy as a pedagogy of the public and that of public pedagogy as the enactment of a concern for the public quality of human togetherness. The latter form of public pedagogy neither teaches nor erases the political by bringing it under a regime of learning, but rather opens up the possibility for forms of human togetherness through which freedom can appear, that is forms of human togetherness which contribute to the ‘becoming public’ of spaces and places.
This article explores women’s fear of urban violence from a spatial perspective. It is based on qualitative data collected in Finland. It shows first that women do not have to be fearful. Boldness is associated with freedom, equality, and a sense of control over, and possession of space. Secondly, the article considers how and why fear of violence undermines some women’s confidence, restricting their access to, and activity within, public space. Women’s fear is generally regarded as ‘normal’ and their boldness thought to be risky: the conceptualization of women as victims is unintentionally reproduced. However, a more critical view might regard fear as socially constructed and see how it is actually possible for women to be confident and take possession of space.
Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (2014)
Strategies of localism have constituted the community as a metaphor for democracy and empowerment as part of a wider reordering of state institutions and state power. In conflating the smallest scale with increased participation, however, community localism provides a framework through which the power of sociospatial positioning might be made vulnerable to resistance and change. This paper identifies four spatial practices through which marginalised communities apply the technology of localism to challenge the limitations of their positioning and imprint promises of empowerment and democracy on space. Drawing on the work of Judith Butler, the paper theorises these practices as the incursion into the public realm of regulatory norms related to domestic and private spaces, rendering political space familiar and malleable, and suggesting that power and decision making can be brought within reach. It is argued that these spatial practices of community rehearse a more fundamental transformation of the political ordering of space than that authorised by the state strategies of localism.
Cellphones provide a unique opportunity to examine how new media both reflect and affect the social world. This study suggests that people map their understanding of common social rules and dilemmas onto new technologies. Over time, these interactions create and reflect a new social landscape. Based upon a year-long observational field study and in-depth interviews, this article examines cellphone usage from two main perspectives: how social norms of interaction in public spaces change and remain the same; and how cellphones become markers for social relations and reflect tacit pre-existing power relations. Informed by Goffman's concept of cross talk and Hopper's caller hegemony, the article analyzes the modifications, innovations and violations of cellphone usage on tacit codes of social interactions.
This paper works at the intersection of three bodies of writing: theories relating to fashion, identity and the city; debate relating to urban materialities, assemblages and context; and cultural interventions advancing the study of post-socialism. Drawing on empirical research undertaken in Bratislava, Slovakia, we unpack a blurring of public and private space expressed through clothing. In contrast to elsewhere in the city, in Petržalka, a high-rise housing estate from the socialist period, widely depicted as anonymous and hostile since 1989, residents are renowned for wearing ‘comfortable’ clothes in order to ‘feel at home’ in public space. We describe the relationship between fashion, identity and comfort as an everyday ‘political’ response to state socialism and later the emergence of consumer capitalism. We argue, however, that by considering materialities, assemblages and context that studies of fashion and consumer culture can offer more complex political, economic, social, cultural and spatial analysis. To that end, we show how personal and collective consumption bound up with comfort and city life can be understood with reference to changing temporal and spatial imaginaries and experiences of claiming a material ‘right to the city’.
Contemporary mobile-phone technology is becoming increasingly similar around the world. However, cultural differences between countries may also shape mobile-phone practices. This study examines a group of variables connected to mobile-phone use among university students in Sweden, the USA and Japan. Key cultural issues addressed are attitudes towards quiet in public space, personal use of public space and tolerance of self-expression. Measures include the appropriateness of using mobiles in various social contexts and judgments of what respondents like most and like least about having a mobile phone. Analysis revealed a number of culturally associated differences, as well as a shared conflicting attitude towards the advantages and disadvantages of reachability by mobile phone.
Few studies have explicitly examined the importance of cultural settings to children's environmental awareness, especially in a non-Western context. In this paper, the author reviews those studies which have drawn attention to how culture affects children's behaviour in large-scale environments and refers to an empirical study of a group of young Kenyan children which examines the relationship between environmental experience and environmental awareness. The findings are interesting for three principal reasons. First, they demonstrate that children who are without formal training and with limited access to maps are able to draw relatively sophisticated place representations and to recall their local environment in vivid terms. Secondly, these maps and place descriptions are different to those of their age-sex-counterparts from Britain, which suggests that culture influences expressive style if not cognitive ability. Thirdly, they suggest that further studies, set within other cross-cultural contexts, are needed, if the importance of culture to environmental capability is to be understood. The author argues that although geographers are well-placed to carry out this kind of investigation little geographical research on children's place relationships has been undertaken. In this sense, geographers are particularly remiss and are guilty of forgetting their 'roots.'
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (2011)
Parlette, V., & Cowen, D.
An entire category of urban space, albeit hardly recognized as such, is disappearing across North America. As retail logistics globalizes and big-box power centres replace enclosed shopping malls from the postwar era, a distinct form of social infrastructure vanishes as well. ‘Dead malls’ are now a staple of North American (sub)urban landscapes, and have provoked local activism in many places. But despite popular concern for the demise of mall space, critical urban scholarship has largely sidelined the phenomenon. Much of the disjuncture between popular outcry and academic silence relates to conceptions of ‘public’ space, and specifically the gap between formal ownership and everyday spatial practice. Spatial practice often exceeds the conceptions of designers and managers, transforming malls into community space. This is particularly true in declining inner suburbs, where poor and racialized communities depend more heavily on malls for social reproduction as well as recreation and consumption. In this article we investigate the revolution in logistics that has provoked the phenomenon of ‘dead malls’ and the creative activism emerging that aims to protect mall space as ‘community space’. Taking the case of the Morningside Mall in an old suburb of Toronto, we investigate the informal claims made on mall space through everyday spatial practice and the explicit claims for community space that arise when that space is threatened. We argue that many malls have effectively become community space, and activism to prevent its loss can be understood as a form of anti-globalization practice, even if it never employs that language.
Latin American scholars have recently discussed the privatization of urban public space. A fundamental aspect of this process is the disintegration of communities because it often targets and affects a peculiarly Latin American kind of public space: the plaza. Plazas have traditionally functioned as cultural centres in Latin American cites. They are central meeting points for political groups, sites of civic expression and public resistance, as well as places to purchase relatively cheap goods and services. Plazas are, therefore, sites in which families, neighbours, and political organizations mingle, interact, and also challenge authority. This paper uses these sorts of insights on public space in Latin America to develop a conceptualization of the plaza as a community centre. However, the multiple practices and interactions that occur in these forms of public space have been disrupted by state-led strategies which seek to privatize and sanitize public space, thereby disrupting—or even destroying—the community centre. I use primary materials on Mexico City's Historic centre and its plaza to explore the ways in which this specific type of urban public space has been affected physically and symbolically by a regeneration scheme known as the Programa de Rescate.
The paper explores the extent to which inhabitants of Abu Dhabi find ways circumvent official notions of order as it pertains to the use of open public spaces in the city. To that effect, the study focuses on informal modes of urbanity examining and mapping various forms of informal activities that still persist in the city. The study relies on field research carried out in Abu Dhabi's central area, content analysis of media reports, and interviews with officials and city residents. This will be contextualized and situated within the overall urban development Abu Dhabi. These contemporary modes of informal urbanism will be mapped through a survey of the city's public spaces. A series of vignettes offers a portrayal of the diverse ways in which residents have constructed an alternative order. The overall aim is to construct a 'narrative of informality'—a view from below offering a more substantive assessment of people's interaction with, and relation to, the built environment. The paper begins with a theoretical framework aiming at situating the study within the overall discourse known as 'informal urbanism' the study of the everyday which, while prevalent to various degrees within urban theory, has been receiving renewed emphasis. The overall value for mapping activities both at the level of urban theory and for the urban development of Dhabi is discussed in the conclusion.
Discussions of public space and the public have become complicated in recent years. This article seeks to bring some clarity to these discussions by examining where participants in public space debates ‘locate’ the public – those spheres or realms where participants believe a public is constituted and where public interest is found. To identify the ways in which public space is conceptualized and located, we analyze the literature on public space, interviews with scholars actively involved in public space research, and interviews with participants in a series of public space controversies in the USA. We find that differing definitions of ‘the public’ that underlie these conceptualizations are rooted in strongly held political orientations and normative visions of democracy. But we also find that there is considerable overlap in how participants frame their understandings of publicity, and thus there is a basis for more thorough debate and even transformation of policy and practice.
Functioning public spaces, as ‘public’ political, social, and cultural arenas of citizen discourse, affect not only the citizen’s quality of life, but are also indispensable infrastructure in democratic societies. This article offers a nuanced understanding of Iranian women’s usage, feelings, and preferences in public spaces in present-day Tehran by not simply importing Western theories that sustain distinctions between traditional and modern women, but instead by hearing women’s stories. This article raises concerns related to the gender identities, the politics of space, and design of these places. Meidan-e-Tajrish, Sabz-e-Meidan, and Marvi Meidancheh in Tehran accommodate an ethnographic visualization of gendering space. The process by which Iranian women attach symbolic meanings to those public spaces offers insight into the mutual construction of gender identities and space politics. The contrasting urban locations, different design styles, and distinct social activities provide an excellent comparison between the selected public spaces. Findings suggest caution in using gender as an essential category in feminist geography research to better represent the diversity of experiences in public spaces. Binary categorization of modern versus traditional, secular versus religious, public versus private, and male versus female in urban studies should be carefully validated as Iranian women’s lived experiences challenge the homogenizing Western theories, particularly the predominant critics of modern public spaces in North America. The research process also highlights the benefits of geo-visualization in understanding the complex interaction between gender identities and the built environment.
This article focuses on the dynamics between migrant street vendors and public security forces and the complex social production of urban public space in Guangzhou. As an answer to daily contestation of public order, security agencies reluctantly open flexible windows of business opportunities to hawkers. Zones and periods of control, ‘soft’ approaches, and categories of ethnic belonging influence everyday governance and accessibility of public space. This results in a transient public space, fluid and continuously changing, which offers a new perspective on openness and functioning of public space in urban China.
In Bangladesh, Dhaka is migrants' most important destination and has itself been fundamentally transformed through migration. But there is ‘no place’ for many migrants in Dhaka. Poorer migrants live in slums and many encroach on public space to sustain their lives – the new urbanites are taking their ‘right to the city’. In doing so, they not only draw on local resources. Their production of the urban space often relates directly to their migration trajectory, their translocal networks, and their simultaneous situatedness at multiple places. Migrants connect ‘the rural’ and ‘the urban’ and constitute translocal spaces, which contribute to re‐making Dhaka from below. This paper integrates current debates on translocality, informal labour, and subaltern urbanism to address two key questions on transient urban spaces: How do migration trajectories and translocality structure the urban poor's lives? How do migrants make use of local networks and translocal social relations to find work and appropriate ‘their place’ in the city? Empirical research on street food vendors in Dhaka, almost all of whom are internal migrants, builds the basis for my argument. I show that ‘translocal social capital’ and home‐bound identities can be important resources to gain access to urban labour markets and to appropriate one's place in the city. The paper argues that the poor use translocality for their livelihoods and thereby continuously re‐shape the face of the megacity of Dhaka.
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (2010)
Gillian Rose, Begum Basdas & Monica Degen
This paper begins by reviewing a range of recent work by geographers conceptualising buildings less as solid objects and more as performances. Buildings, it is argued, are not given but produced, as various materials are held together in specific assemblages by work of various kinds. This has led to a range of studies looking at the diverse sorts of work that make buildings cohere: the political institutions they are embedded in, the material affordances of their non-human components, the discourses surrounding particular kinds of buildings, and, in particular, the experiencing of buildings by their human inhabitants, users and visitors. However, this experiencing has been poorly theorised. Those geographers inspired by actor network approaches to buildings acknowledge human experiences, but in very limited ways; while those geographers inspired more by affect theory evoke the 'feelings' that buildings may provoke but evacuate human subjectivity from their accounts of buildings' performances. Through a case study of two buildings, this paper argues that both approaches are flawed in their uninterest in the human, and proposes that more attention be paid to (at least) three aspects of human feeling: the feel of buildings, feelings in buildings and feelings about buildings.
In this article we aim to utilise and apply ethnomethodological and interactionist principles to the analysis of members’ situated accounts of regenerated urban space. With reference to previous empirical studies we apply membership categorization analysis and the concept of mundane reason to data gathered from situated street level interviews carried out as part of a programme of ethnographic research into the regenerated setting of Cardiff Bay. The article demonstrates that these data yield sociological insight into social actors’ interpretive and interactional reasoning in relation to the negotiation, navigation and comprehension of space and place. Through this work the patterned signatures of the urban interactional order can be identified. Furthermore, we illustrate the forms of emic rationality associated with the everyday and ubiquitous constitution of urban space as a meaningful, and thence cultural, milieu. It is our claim that an appreciation of these urban forms of reasoning is important in the ethnographic, sociological and geographical analysis of space and place.
This article examines the ways in which individuals use MP3 players to shape their experiences of the London commute. To investigate MP3 listening practices, I conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with eight DJs and ‘listeners’ living in London. I argue that MP3 players enable individuals to use music to precisely shape their experiences of space, place, others and themselves while moving through the city. In doing so, individuals experience great control as they transform urban journeys into private and pleasurable spaces. While experienced effects of MP3 player listening were similar among respondents, pre-existing relationships to music appear to relate to motivations for use. This article draws on a variety of social theorists ranging from Simmel and Adorno to Lefebvre to interrogate the experience of control MP3 users describe, and to understand the implications for the autonomy of urban inhabitants.
The focus of this paper is the strategies of civic actors in a central Tokyo neighborhood to claim a voice in managing changes to their community and creating shared meanings for neighborhood streets and public spaces. In Yanaka an active community movement has worked to protect and improve shared community spaces by celebrating them as a historic legacy and a shared community resource, investing new and more complex values and claims on shared spaces, and redefining public streets as civic spaces in their neighborhood. They assert the rights of community participation in managing urban change by creating a neighborhood constitution, organizing art events and festivals in the streets, engaging new participants in shared property rights, proposing new criteria for evaluating urban change, and telling stories of a strong and distinct community. Claiming ownership of the meaning and management of local public spaces is a political strategy of self empowerment by community groups that has been relatively successful in this case.
This paper explores some of the discursive practices through which the place meanings are formulated, warranted and, above all, contested. Drawing particularly on the work of the social psychologist Michael Billig, we present a rhetorical analysis of newspaper reports and interview accounts about the ‘development’ of a contested public space in Barcelona, known locally both as Figuera’s Well and the Hole of Shame. This analysis explores a number of rhetorically opposed constructions of the nature, purpose and appropriate beneficiaries of this place, whose implications are discussed both within the context of local power struggles and within the context of wider ideological struggles over the nature of public spaces in Barcelona. We argue that a rhetorical perspective reveals how practices of attributing meaning and value to places are often more conflict-ridden, action-oriented, and politically-charged than is implied by much research in environmental psychology. Relatedly, we argue that environmental psychologists need to complement a ‘weak’ conception of the role of conflict in the formation of public space (focused on subjective differences in environmental tastes, preferences and values) with a ‘strong’ conception of the role of conflict (focused on ideological struggles over access, equality and inclusion).
This paper plots the recent changes in the uses of public space in Hanoi, Vietnam. It is argued that the economic and social changes in contemporary Vietnam have paved the way for a dramatic transformation in the ways in which streets, pavements and markets are experienced and imagined by the populace. The efflorescence of individual mobility, street-trading and public crowding around certain popular events has led to the emergence of a distinct public sphere, one which is not immune from state control and censure but which is a flagrant rebuttal of the state's appeal. The immediate struggles over space herald a new discursive arena for the contest over Vietnamese national imagery as represented in cultural heritage and public space, memorials and state-controlled events which the public are rapidly deserting. The paper concludes by suggesting that the everyday cultural practices that have created a bustling streetlife in urban Vietnam will inevitably provide the vitality and spectacle for the destabilisation of state control in a struggle for meanings in public space.
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2004)
De La Pradelle, M., & Lallement, E.
In 2003, for the second year running, the Paris municipality entrusted a young theater designer with the transformation of one stretch of the banks of the Seine River—normally congested with heavy traffic—into an open space evocative of the seaside. Paris in August is therefore Paris by the seaside. The objective of our study is to examine the entire operation, from the moment the political decision was taken by the municipality to the many and varied activities of all those who participated. Through this study, we attempt to highlight the different forms of material and symbolic (re)creation of Paris being undertaken today. We show that in a situation such as this, a reflection on the fieldwork undertaken and the production of ethnographic knowledge is in fact the key factor in the analysis.
Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development (2006)
Privatized public space reflects a current moment in the ongoing negotiation of the relationship between the state and the market that is a central concern of liberalism. The configuration of this relationship has consequences for the nature of citizenship and democracy in theory and practice. Emblematic of a shift to the privatization of urban public space, California Plaza provides a case by which to examine the multiscalar interests and machinations of the neoliberal state in practice. Exploring the meanings of public and private that are produced by a corporate plaza enables an assessment of how privatized public space helps constitute contemporary citizenship. Institutional and legal frameworks serve as a foundation for the relative publicness of the corporate plaza. Techniques of exclusion and control through design features and security measures exclude errant bodies and regulate the seamlessness of the desired public. At the same time, counter practices indicate the emergence of spaces and subjects that destabilize presumed notions of public and private.
Despite a burgeoning literature on mobilities in general and cycling in particular as a transport, leisure, and political practice, there remains a lack of research on cycling in pedestrian public spaces. There is, however, a substantial body of literature in relation to skateboarding in public spaces which with few exceptions theorises it as resistant to preexisting dominant design codes and social norms. Using the example of London's South Bank this paper focuses on the urban cycling practices of bike trials and BMX in order to illustrate that these practices are perhaps not as `resistant' as previous accounts have argued. Whilst accounts of skateboarding have tended to draw upon a body ^ architecture dialectics and subcultural theory, using ethnographic methods this paper discusses the practice and reception of display, sociality, and authority inherent in these public performances. In doing so the paper demonstrates that these styles of riding largely perform the social and cultural norms enshrined in the redevelopment of the South Bank. The result is a performed reading of these practices and spaces which sees power as always becoming. In line with this, the paper also questions the logic of current strategies which seek to displace riders and skaters to peripheral `private' skate parks based on an erroneous reading of such practices as always resistant.
This article examines cultural practices and social life in urban public spaces of postreform China, focusing on the everyday leisure, entertainment, and cultural activities spontaneously organized by grassroots residents or groups. It examines performativity in constituting cultural meanings, reproducing everyday identities, and building up mutual engagements, and unravels the ways in which ordinary people devote resources, labor, and energy to keep alive individual or collective identities. Performances of cultural identities in public spaces entail improvised and temporary social relations which emerge from the immediate contexts of mundane spatial practices. Empirical analyses of public performativity in Guangzhou identify three scenarios, namely, the performativity of public teaching, public shows and performances, and the performative displays of cultural difference between carnivalesque dancing and “high-end culture” in public leisure.
Recent case studies of receiving communities have established that translocal immigrants are transforming their neighbourhoods, producing spaces of identity. While these studies have focused on the reshaping of local power dynamics, less attention has been given to the spaces, themselves, and the qualities that influence identity. This study utilises place identity literature, from environmental psychology, to explore the remaking of MacArthur Park, a public space at the centre of a Mexican and Central American immigrant community in Los Angeles, California. We find that new ‘place identities’ are influenced by the specific physical, social, and cultural elements of the park, as study participants attempt to maintain identities influenced by important places in their sending communities. The result is a park that has emotional significance for participants, significance that leads to agency – everyday and political practices – to protect the park, sometimes in the face of immense challenges.
This paper presents a comparative case study of two northern suburbs in Melbourne, Australia, in order to analyze local perceptions of proximity, mobility, and spaces of community interaction within diverse neighborhoods experiencing socioeconomic and demographic transition. We first look at government policies concerning the two suburbs, which position one suburb within a narrative of gentrification and the other within a narrative of marginalization. We then draw on diverse residents’ experiences and perceptions of local space, finding that these “everyday geographies” operate independently of and often at odds with local policy narratives of demographic and socioeconomic transition. We conclude that residents’ “everyday geographies” reveal highly varied and contested experiences of sociospatial dimensions of local change, in contrast to policy narratives that are often neoliberally framed.
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (2008)
De Visscher, S., & Bouverne-De Bie, M.
This article discusses how urban public space impacts upon children's socialization. There are two points of view on the relationship between children and the urban neighbourhood, whether one considers the position of children in urban public space or the position of this environment in children's socialization. One can define the relationship in terms of the need to protect children against the perils of the city; this results in a spatial segregation of children into separate (play) spaces. Alternatively, one can argue that children should be able to move independently and safely through urban public space in order to make full use of the socializing opportunities offered by the city; this results in criteria for a child-friendly city. Leaving aside abstract images of the ideal neighbourhood for children, urban public space should also be considered as a co-educator. Theories of urban public space as a co-educator require empirical information about the way in which this space impacts upon existing processes of socialization and the citizenship of children. Three cases from the city of Ghent are presented to illustrate this discussion.
Definitions of neighbourhood in the Social Sciences are complex, varying in their characteristics (for example, perceived boundaries and content) and between residents of that neighbourhood (for example, by class and ethnicity). This study employs an under-utilised methodology offering strong potential for overcoming some of the difficulties associated with neighbourhood definitions. A mental mapping exercise involving local residents is showcased for an ethnically diverse working-class neighbourhood in south Liverpool. The results demonstrate distinctions between residents in the geographical demarcation of the area and the features included, with important implications for how neighbourhood is best measured and understood. We suggest that one size does not fit all in definitions of neighbourhood, and that mental mapping should form a more common part of a neighbourhood researcher’s toolkit.
In this article I explore how an integrated approach to the anthropological study of urban space would work ethnographically. I discuss four areas of spatial/cultural analysis—historical emergence, sociopolitical and economic structuring, patterns of social use, and experiential meanings—as a means of working out of the methodological implications of broader social construction theoretical perspectives. Two plazas in San Jose, Costa Rica, furnish ethnographic illustrations of the social mediating processes of spatial practices, symbolic meaning, and social control that provide insight into the conflicts that arise as different groups and sociopolitical forces struggle to claim and define these culturally significant public spaces.
While aerial photography is associated with vertical objectivity and spatial abstractions, street-level imagery appears less political in its orientation to the particularities of place. I contest this assumption, showing how the aggregation of street-level imagery into “big datasets” allows for the algorithmic sorting of places by their street-level visual qualities. This occurs through an abstraction by “datafication,” inscribing new power geometries onto urban places through algorithmic linkages between visual environmental qualities, geographic information, and valuations of social worth and risk. Though largely missing from media studies of Google Street View, similar issues have been raised in critiques of criminological theories that use place as a proxy for risk. Comparing the Broken Windows theory of criminogenesis with big data applications of street-level imagery informs a critical media studies approach to Google Street View. The final section of this article suggests alternative theoretical orientations for algorithm design that avoid the pitfalls of essentialist equations of place with social character.
Annals of the Association of American Geographers (2001)
James S. Duncan & Nancy G. Duncan
This article examines the aestheticization of the politics of exclusion in a suburban American community. The research for this study focuses on the relationships among landscapes, social identity, exclusion, and the aesthetic attitudes of residents of Bedford, New York. By being thoroughly aestheticized, class relations are mystified and reduced to questions of lifestyle, consumption patterns, taste, and visual pleasure. Landscapes become possessions that play an active role in the performance of elite social identities. As such, social distinction is achieved and maintained by preserving and enhancing the beauty of places such as Bedford. This aestheticizing of place is managed through highly restrictive zoning policies for residential land and by "protecting" hundreds of acres of undeveloped land as nature preserves. This article explores the role of romantic ideology, localism, antiurbanism, antimodemism, and a class-based aesthetic in the construction of "wild" nature in these preserves. We argue that, in places such as Bedford, the celebration of localism, environmental beauty, and preservation mask the interrelatedness of issues of aesthetics and class identity on the one hand and residential land shortages in the New York metropolitan region on the other. The seemingly innocent pleasure in the aesthetic appreciation of landscapes and the desire to protect nature can act as a subtle but highly effective mechanism of social exclusion and the reaffirmation of elite class identities.
This article provides a sociological explanation for urban “greening,” the normative practice of using everyday signifiers of nature to fix problems with urbanism. Although greening is commonly understood as a reaction against the pathologies of the industrial metropolis, such explanations cannot account for greening’s recurrence across varied social and historical contexts. Through a study of greening in Germany’s Ruhr region, a polycentric urban region that has repeatedly greened in the absence of a traditional city, I argue that greening is made possible by a social imaginary of nature as an indirect or moral good, which I call urbanized nature, that is an outcome of, and subsequently becomes a variable in, urbanization. I draw on processual accounts of urbanization and the sociology of morality to explain urbanized nature’s emergence in the Ruhr at the beginning of the twentieth century, and its use to fulfill two competing visions of urban democracy in the postwar period. I find that rather than an ideological reaction against cities, greening is an aspirational practice that can be mobilized by a range of actors in a variety of places and times. By showing how a new social imaginary made new forms of moral action possible and how those ideals were then materialized in urban space, this article draws attention to the role of cultural imaginaries in urban change and to the material consequences of moral beliefs.
In the public-space discourse Los Angeles is usually portrayed as more "anti-city" than city. Its landscape is overrun by houses, "private-public" squares and plazas, theme parks, shopping malls, and so on and lacks inclusive public places. Yet this discourse has essentially disdained to contemplate a major public space that contradicts its general thesis: the Los Angeles coast. The coast is meaningful public place in two specific senses. First, it symbolizes Los Angeles as a whole and therefore provides a basis for regional public identity. Second, Angelinos themselves take the coast seriously as a public place, and they have striven to make it inclusive in prac- tice.
In India, there are religious practices intersecting with the process of urbanization at various levels. This paper looks at the practice of tree worship which continues to be a part of everyday life here. Specifically, it looks at how the Peepul tree (Ficus Religiosa) shrine with its serpent stones and the raised platform around it (katte) contributes to the territorial production of urban space in the city of Bangalore. Based on a study of 10 kattes in the city, it finds that these urban spaces belong either to a process of territorialization by the local community or its deterritorialization by the government. The paper builds a theoretical argument for how the katte as a ‘human activity node’ contributes to an ‘urban web’ which is categorized here as the physical layer. It finds that the Peepul tree could enable a ‘network of relations’, termed as the social layer. It suggests that the information fields generated within these layers influences collective memory of the people. Finally, the paper argues that the two layers acting together can help formulate an urban design model that can minimize deterritorialization.
The modern world is facing rapid urbanisation, increasing urban population, constant growth of cities and the construction of new neighbourhoods. Moreover, new neighbourhoods often lack the elements of identity in the context of the place and the people who live there. Therefore, it is necessary to construct these identities together with the physical and natural structure of place and the cultural identity of the people. The construction of spatial identities has been studied in two case studies of “new” neighbourhoods, Mađir (Banjaluka, Bosnia- Herzegovina) and Ilsvika (Trondheim, Norway), using a qualitative analysis method. The comparison makes use of a triangle model that includes three elements of identity construction as three points of analysis: a) spatial context, b) participation in processes of planning and construction and c) action in place. The two cultural contexts and two ways of constructing spatial identity in the new neighbourhoods studied show certain similarities and differences. The study points to the universal significance of this phenomenon and indicates that the process could be improved in each case by applying positive experiences from the other, with adaptation to the specific context. Considering the importance and interrelation of the three elements involved in construction of spatial identities, they should be harmonised in all stages of development.
The British premarital stag tour to Central and Eastern European destinations is commonly associated with drunk and unruly behaviour. This link frequently focuses on the inappropriate use of public spaces by stag tour groups. Drawing on participant observation with British stag tourists Krakow, Poland, it is suggested that the meanings attributed to stag tour destinations are collectively defined within the group. A distinction is made between place, which is how the destination is anticipated and imagined, and space, which is how the city is engaged with physically and socially on the ground. Within this the definition of place and space created by stag tour participants is antagonistic and both directly and indirectly contested by other actors within the spatial setting.
The aim of this paper is to bring the concept of place identity into the context of intergroup relationships in urban place, using the social identity approach. A field study was conducted in four adjacent neighbourhoods in the city of Lisbon, in order to explore the influence of place identity on the perception of the participants’ own neighbourhood and its residents (in-group) and of the other neighbourhoods and their residents (out-groups). The results showed that place identity was highly correlated with neighbourhood satisfaction, relevant out-group differentiation, and favouritism to the in-group and depreciation of the relevant out-group. The results also enabled the identification of three types of possible relationships between the groups: a relevant out-group for comparison, an idealized reference group for approximation, and a devaluated group for avoidance. Moreover, in this study, we extend the predictions of SIA to the comprehension of specific distance estimation distortion patterns.
Recent critiques of conventional poverty research have highlighted the need to move beyond the conceptual limitations of “neighborhood effects” models and the use of the tropes of “adaptation” or “resistance” to explain the behaviors and actions of the urban poor. We use ethnographic field observations and interviews with public-housing residents to address these limitations in the poverty literature, assess competing explanations of poor people’s agency, and provide insight into the importance of space as a mediating link between macrostructural constraints and locally situated behaviors. We theorize agency and identity as spatial phenomena—with spatial attributes and spatial influences—and examine how different spatial meanings and locations enable or constrain particular forms of social action and behavior. Our ethnographic and interview data depict several strategies by which residents “use space” to provide a measure of security and protection, to designate and avoid areas of criminality and drug activity, and to challenge or support the redevelopment of public housing. From these data we show that urban space is not a residual phenomenon in which social action occurs, but a constitutive dimension of social life that shapes life experiences, social conflict, and action.
This article uses photography and ethnography to understand and represent residents’ emotional phenomenological experiences of walks through their neighborhood. It addresses how narratives of the personal and the social structure individuals’ experiences of familiar public spaces. A diverse
group of residents gave the author their personal tours of emotionally significant neighborhood places. The author then continued these conversations with participants using photographs of these ordinary sites. The article addresses how these personal stories layer on public spaces and build aspects of psychologist Kurt Lewin’s situational, emotional and individual-specific life space, as well as constructing senses of dwelling and Heideggerian lifeworld. To consider ways in which people build senses of home in public spaces, the article looks at ordinary things to which people give little reflective attention yet that often support deep connections to place.
The article discusses alternative wedding ceremonies staged in urban spaces as a statement of protest among immigrant couples that cannot marry in rabbinical courts, because they are not recognized as Jews. These public weddings are organized and sponsored by the Fishka association of young Israeli adults of Russian origin. Our field-work at Fishka included participant observation of its various events during 2013–2014, as well as in-depth interviews with the key informants, promotional materials, and video recordings of their public wedding ceremonies held in the streets of Tel-Aviv in 2009–2011. Embedded in the social history of the city and framed in the concepts of urban diversity and the politics of belonging, our ethnographic data juxtapose “Russian” street weddings with other public festivals sponsored by Fishka and other protest actions by minority groups. Alternative, civil weddings emerge as a form of active and critical citizenship among young Russian immigrants, seeking solidarity of other Israelis in the joint effort to reform the status quo and enable civil alternatives to Orthodox marriage. The active political stance and cultural activism of Fishka members challenge native Israelis’ monopoly on communal public space; young immigrants are thus carving a place for themselves in the iconic sites of the city’s public cultural sphere.
What constructs are used to characterize public space? This paper analyzes residents’ percep- tions of public space, using data from Visakhapatnam (usually referred to as “Vizag”), India— a city of 1.3 million people on the Bay of Bengal. Extensive interviews, 37 in number, were conducted, using composite group sampling. The sample was drawn from all socioeconomic levels of employees, managers, and associates, at a large industrial plant. The interview sched- ules contained open-ended questions eliciting residents’ perceptions of public space, and their demographics. Qualitative analyses and quantitative tabulations were carried out. Concep- tualizing sense of place in terms of the distinguishing features of the urban environment, a comparison was made between the perception of public space in Vizag and in Western developed countries. The research indicates that lower socioeconomic status people have as complex a conception of public space as do those of high socioeconomic status, provided that the interview schedule is designed to elicit these data. Residents differentiated areas by socio- economic status, and by land use, i.e., industrial, commercial, and residential. Preeminent con- cerns—with pollution, crowding, health, and religion—represent much of what is psychologi- cally salient about public space in Vizag. These findings are in contrast with the salient characteristics of public space in Western cities, as found by prior research. We believe that these findings have policy implications for urban planners and leaders.
The public sphere has been centre stage in celebrations of India's political triumphs. Leading commentators tell us that the astonishing post-independence surge of democracy has been contingent on the rise of a new kind of sociopolitical formation: the public sphere. This paper takes a closer look at the popular deliberative terrain in North India to question this claim. Drawing on research conducted in a provincial town in the North Indian state of Rajasthan, we see that where metropolitan political theorists see 'transparency' as promoting discursive and political possibilities, Rajasthani villagers see an exposure which prevents expression, communication and the making of political choices. In their view, it is secrecy and social seclusion that enable political interactions and elicit political judgments. 'The public sphere' is an unfit heuristic for locating popular politics within (and beyond) Rajasthan, where it obscures much more than it reveals.
Power, M. J., Neville, P., Devereux, E., Haynes, A., & Barnes, C.
We examine how an Irish stigmatised neighbourhood is represented by Google Street View. In spite of Google’s claims that Street View allows for ‘a virtual reflection of the real world to enable armchair exploration’ (McClendon, 2010). We show how it is directly implicated in the politics of representations. We focus on the manner in which Street View has contributed to the stigmatisation of a marginalised neighbourhood. Methodologically, we adopt a rhetorical/structuralist analysis of the images of Moyross present on Street View. While Google has said the omissions were ‘for operational reasons’, we argue that a wider social and ideological context may have influenced Google’s decision to exclude Moyross. We examine the opportunities available for contesting such representations, which have significance for the immediate and long-term future of the estate, given the necessity to attract businesses into Moyross as part of the ongoing economic aspect of the regeneration of this area.
In this paper, I adopt a concept of informal public space from socialist social life as part of the language of postsocialism to explore changing uses of social space by women in contemporary Hồ Chí Minh City. Following Zdravomyslova and Voronkov, I describe the informal public as the space in culture where urbanites are able to demonstrate normality and belonging by participating in neighborhood life. I argue that the use of informal public space has been adapted to meet the new conditions of the post-reform era. Because of this, the informal public is simultaneously a space where urbanites not only can demonstrate belonging but also can mark relative social position by producing or mitigating social distance.
Anna Ortiz, Maria Dolors Garcia-Ramon & Maria Prats
This article deals with women's use of public space and sense of place in El Raval, a neighbourhood located in the historical center of Barcelona. Attention will be paid to discover to what degree the existence of a quality public space fosters the creation of socially meaningful places, thus contributing to the construction of women's sense of place and urban identities. A qualitative approach, based on direct observation and in-depth interviews with women living in the neighbourhood, has allowed us to capture the main aspects of the building of a sense of place and belonging, that is the use of public space and facilities, the attitude towards living in the neighbourhood, etc.