On the Contours of Public Space: A Tale of Three Women

Liz Bondi & Mona Domosh

Go to article

Bondi, L. & Domosh, M. (1). On the Contours of Public Space: A Tale of Three Women. Antipode, 30(3), 270–289. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8330.00078

class , division of public and private space , gender , historical , regulation of public space


Main finding
In feudal times social interaction and economic activity took place in domestic spaces and were not specifically gendered. Toward the early 16th century, public space was becoming non-domestic and distinguishable from the private by certain values like utilitarianism. By the mid to late 19th century, productive spaces were removed form the domestic realm as it became the bourgeois sphere. Public spaces were highly gendered limiting those accessible to women and relegating them to a growing consumer culture within modern cities. The late 20th century found women living similar daily lives to their male counterparts, however parallels can be drawn between women’s experiences in the late 19th and 20th centuries. For example, women had to adjust their behaviors to adapt to vulnerable, gendered spaces at certain times of day - such as non-surveilled dangerous places. The authors argue that declines in public space are linked to their feminization - their commercialization.

Description of method used in the article
Using historical and ideological analysis, the authors seek to understand the construction of public and private realms, over time and through its relationship to gender and class. Using archival (an 1870 travel diary for New York City and well-known English poem circa 1500) and contemporary interview data, three different scenarios of women's lives, in three different time periods, were explored.

Of practical use

Organising categories

Other or N/A
Archival / Historical
Physical types