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.
Using a narrative methodology involving 216 older people in six urban aging environments in the Netherlands, we examined how they use and experience (semi-)public spaces as spaces of encounter, and the meanings they derive from using and experiencing these spaces. The research shows that, first, older people prefer commercial spaces like shopping malls to planned and designed activity spaces in care homes or neighborhood centers. Second, older people struggle with the transformations that have taken place in urban social life since they were young adults. Third, especially frail older people derive meaning from a more passive experience of urban social life, in an observer role. The findings allow us to contribute to ongoing debates on the shifting boundaries between public and private space, and the moral implications of these shifting boundaries from the perspective of a diverse group of older users.