Shopping in the Public Realm: A Law of Place

Layard, Antonia

Layard, A. (2010). Shopping in the public realm: A law of place. Journal of Law and Society, 37(3), 412–441. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6478.2010.00513.x

Private Vs Public Space , Public Realm

Through a case study based in Bristol, this article explores how the law of place' has transformed multiple heterogeneous city centre spaces into a single homogeneous and commodified privately owned retail site. Drawing on de Certeau, Lefebvre, and humanistic geographers including Tuan, the article explores how law facilitates spatial and temporal enclosure through conventional understandings of private property, relying on techniques of masterplanning, compulsory purchase, and stopping up highways. It suggests that the law of place draws on binary spatial and conceptual distinctions to apparently separate places from spaces, applying different legal rules either side of an often invisible boundary line. The article questions this legally facilitated spatial and conceptual enclosure, particularly as it restricts spatial practices within the public realm. It concludes by rejecting an urban 'right to roam' as insufficiently transformative, calling for a broader interpretation of Lefebvre 's 'right to the

Main finding
The study suggests that the combination of the "law of place" and geography have in theory been able to delineate public spaces from private places, but that in reality spaces and places are not completely separate. The clear delimitation between public and private places raises questions for the author, and seems obsolete as we are starting to understand the intricate networks of spatial and social relations, which will always be crossing over the delimitation line. The author argues for a better collaboration between scholars and lawyers to understand what makes a space and what makes a place.

Description of method used in the article

Of practical use

Organising categories

Other or N/A
Case Study
Urban Planning
Physical types
Geographic locations