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Urban Studies (2010)
This paper examines recent responses to 'problematic street culture' in England, where increasing pressure has been exerted to prevent people from begging and street drinking in public spaces, with rough sleeping also targeted in some areas. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with enforcement agents, support providers and targeted individuals, it assesses the extent to which the strategies employed are indicative of a Revanchist expulsion' of the deviant Other and/or an expression of 'coercive care' for the vulnerable Other. It concludes that, whilst the recent developments appear, at first glance, to be symptomatic of revanchist sanitisation of public space, closer examination reveals that the situation is actually much more complex than a revanchist reading of the situation might suggest, and perhaps not as devoid of compassion.
New media & society (1999)
This paper is based on an empirical study of users of an internet café in South east England. It picks out some of the key distinctions between internet use within domestic spaces and as a technology accessed in a public economy of consumption. The research findings are contextualized and tested against existing work on public internet access. The material derived from interviews with customers is used to explore the ways in which the internet is differently perceived, used and gendered in the public spaces of an internet café. The paper argues that public use of the internet is not just a transitional phenomenon which precedes home internet adoption. The research revealed that the internet café provided a distinct and dedicated use space which was intimately bound up in the domestic and work routines of its users.
Journal of Urban Design (2008)
For much of the last quarter of the 20th century debates on the state of public spaces in the UK concentrated on issues of neglect and abandonment. New public spaces, increasingly developed by private developers were of equal concern, seen simultaneously as creating privatized, socially exclusive enclaves and characterless ‘anywhere’ regeneration schemes, filled with the same retail outlets, coffee shops and anonymous pieces of public art. This paper addresses this latter concern of homogenization, examining the dynamics behind it and exploring whether local diversity can thrive in the face of such pressure. The paper further reports on a research project that was conducted on a series of prominent public spaces in North East England. The results of this study suggest that the spaces studied are far from passive recipients of global processes. Not only does the quality and quantity of public space often seem to have improved in the recent past, but that long standing locally significant traditions are thriving and new ones are being developed. So, while homogenization in retailing may be significant and harmful to some traditional shopping streets, it is not necessarily damaging the social and cultural lives of the public spaces in our towns and cities to the degree that may be expected.
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (2003)
Article contains no Abstract.
Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review (2005)
The proliferation of alluring, distinctive and exclusive public spaces in many postindustrial cities raises the question of how far these environments are truly "public." Focusing on this question, this article explores the changing "publicness" of a recently redeveloped space in the city center of Newcastle upon Tyne, Britain, in relation to the dimensions of access, actor and interest. It further seeks to underline two emerging trends: the blurring of distinction between public and private spaces in the public realms of postindustrial cities; and the threat posed by image-led regeneration strategies to the everyday needs of and the civic functioning of genuine public spaces.
Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (2011)
Recent debates around urban encounter, integration cosmopolitanism, and renewed engagement with contact theory have raised questions about the spaces of interaction that may enable meaningful encounters between different social groups. Reflecting on a participatory art project with young people of African and British heritage in northeast England, we argue that discussion and practice around participatory action research, including the deployment of contact zones as theory and method, can cast some light on what fosters transformative spaces. Through analysis of two different approaches to community art used in the project, we show how elements of each enabled and disabled meaningful interaction between young people. We draw attention to the materiality of art (the tools) within participatory practices (the doing of it) in contributing to a space where interactions might take place, emphasising a complex interplay across/between actors, materials, and space that frames encounters as emergent, transitory, fragile, and yet hopeful. We examine the potential of a focus on the material in thinking beyond moments of encounter to how transformative social relations may be `scaled up' before considering the implications for research and policy.
Journal of Consumer Culture (2015)
This article uses participant observation data to explore teenagers' presence in two urban public spaces in Manchester, England. The urban spaces under investigation are public, but surrounded by retail outlets and act as gateways for consumption. The aim is to answer the question 'how do the rhythms of teenage life differ when ordinary and extraordinary activities occur in urban public spaces of consumption?' Lefebvre's Rhythmanalysis is employed to analyse the data and identify instances of eurhythmia (harmonious rhythms), arrhythmia (discordant rhythms) and polyrhythmia (multiple simultaneous rhythms) during periods of typical and extraordinary use. Ordinarily the teenagers used the spaces of consumption to mostly meet and socialise with friends with a small number of them using the space to skateboard. This occurred harmoniously alongside others who pass through these gateways to consumption indicating multiple rhythms. The findings indicate that the teenagers were displaced from urban space during the staging of official events which involved increased control from authorities such as the local council and police. They were replaced by a different crowd of people consisting of mostly families and adults. Paradoxically, the 'festival' atmosphere created by extraordinary events in the gateways of consumption resulted more interaction among those present despite increased control from the authorities. Rhythmanalysis proved useful in understanding of spaces when researching spaces of consumption, as it exposes the temporal and fluid nature of urban space. Ultimately, there was no room for the presence of regular users (teenagers) during the staging of extraordinary events indicating a lack of multiple rhythms.
Journal of Urban Design (1997)
This article explores the relationship between pavement cafés, street life and urban public social life. It argues that the licensing of public entertainment and the enforcement of liquor licences and rigid opening times have helped to undermine public social life in English cities. Attitudes which first gained ascendancy in the 1890s have remained dominant and, broadly speaking, unchanged. Nevertheless, there has been a recent and fairly rapid growth in wine bars, cafés and bistros in London and some other English cities. The paper explores whether these help to stimulate public social life. Reference is made to research in Holland and Denmark, and also recent experience in London and Manchester. The paper concludes that city policy makers should, in the short term at least, act to stimulate café culture. Some anti-social and behavioural problems might well require an element of control, and not all urban areas are suited to café culture. Yet in a technological age, café culture represents one of the few remaining opportunities for public sociability. Where it creates a nuisance, it could and should be controlled but this is not the same thing as exercising an all-persuasive moral control which has its roots in Victorian England.
URBAN DESIGN International (2009)
Urban public space is once again a 'hot' topic and figures strongly in place quality discourse. City spaces are being recycled, reinterpreted and reinvented in a drive for a competitive quality of place. This article illustrates the changing face of contemporary UK public space through a qualitative analysis of the perceptions held by public and professional-bureaucratic actors. Drawing on empirical case study research of five recent enhancement schemes at prominent nodes throughout the North East of England, the research explores the culture and economics of urban public space design. Tentative observations are expressed in terms of the links between cultural activity and economic vitality, and some reflections on policy and practice are put forward.
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (2010)
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.
Qualitative Research (2019)
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.
The British Journal of Sociology (1994)
The policing of the anti-poll tax campaign allows an insight into how protest is incorporated. Protestors were both accommodated and coerced as police sought to balance various threats of 'trouble.' Concessions and overt assistance were offered as a means of 'winning over' the protest organizers, whilst legal conditions were imposed to ensure that any threat of disorder was contained. This analysis suggests that notions of an ubridled shift towards a more confrontational style of policing in the wake of the Public Order Act are unfounded. It illustrates the relationship between institutional and interactional social processes, for institutional considerations limit the police's room for manoeuvre, whilst low-level decisions by police officers themselves have implications for those institutions.
The British Journal of Sociology (1998)
The 'fear of crime' has been at the centre of political and policy debate for some time. The purpose of this paper is to examine critically the continued relevance of that debate in the light of findings from an in-depth two and a half year research project. The findings from that project suggest that the relation people have with crime, criminal victimization, and the fear of crime is mediated by the relevance of their relationship with their local community and their structural position within that community. Understanding the nature of these relationships suggests the question of trust is of greater value in highlighting who is and who is not afraid of crime.
Journal of Urban Design (2012)
Public realm schemes are being introduced in urban areas without the usual delineation between the footway and carriageway provided by kerb edges. Concern has been expressed about the resulting spaces on behalf of the approximately two million people in the UK who are blind or visually impaired. This paper questions these concerns and presents the results from a questionnaire and in-depth interviews, and observational studies of blind and visually impaired people navigating in urban streets and spaces with and without shared surfaces. They show that blind and visually impaired people can identify many different surface types and delineators, and they use these, along with other features of the urban environment, in creative ways to identify their location and guide themselves. Shared Space schemes need to preserve a safe area for pedestrians, they need to provide a rich physical environment of contrasts in terms of surface tactility, colour contrast, and the enhancement of sound and other sensory clues.
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.
URBAN DESIGN International (2004)
This paper examines intermediate, semi-enclosed urban spaces and investigates the potential creation of environmental diversity when such spaces are integrated in urban design. More specifically, it focuses on the links between architectural characteristics of semi-enclosed spaces and their thermal performance. The paper identifies major types of semi-enclosed spaces and monitors their thermal performance in northern and southern Europe. The results showed that a wide range of thermal conditions, namely cooler conditions during summer and warmer conditions during winter can be experienced in both regions. Moreover, the thermal variation, which was identified, is linked with the spatial identity of each space and it is argued that the degree of enclosure as well as the orientation and the urban context are significant temperature determinants. Intermediate, semi-enclosed urban spaces should be regarded as important urban components that could increase the thermal and spatial diversity of the urban fabric and therefore contribute to a more fulfilling and comfortable environment.
This article is based on a cross-national qualitative study of homeless and street-involved youth living within Olympic host cities. Synthesizing a Lefebvrian spatial analysis with Debord's concept of 'the spectacle', the article analyses the spatial experiences of homeless young people in Vancouver (host to the 2010 Winter Olympics) and draws some comparisons to London (host to the 2012 Summer Olympics). Tracing encounters with police, gentrification and Olympic infrastructure, the article assesses the experiences of homeless youth in light of claims made by Olympic proponents that the Games will 'benefit the young'. By contrast, the authors argue positive Olympic legacies for homeless and street-involved young people living within host cities are questionable.
Built Environment (1978-) (2009)
Accessibility and mobility within the urban environment has been dictated by the design and layout of buildings and road infrastructure. Both, in their separate ways, have created problems of safety and crime which have conspired to limit pedestrian confidence and therefore movement and travel choice amongst particular groups. Benchmarking of accessibility does not tend to reflect everyday journeys and trips taken or desired, and the perceptual barriers felt by many people. This article reports on a five year research study into accessibility, urban design and social inclusion (AUNT-SUE), funded under the EPSRC's Sustainable Urban Environment programme. The development and validation of a street design index and evaluation of routes is presented through a test bed case study based on user consultation with groups experiencing barriers to pedestrian access, 'fear of crime' and therefore to engagement with the transport system and wider social inclusion. This involves the use of GIS-participation techniques and map walks with residents, integrated with digital data analysis and visualization of the whole journey environment. Particular attention is paid to the mobility and journey needs of users, as well as perceptual and safety issues, since these present some of the major barriers to transport access for vulnerable groups.
Population, Space and Place (2015)
Situating itself in encounter and public space debates and borrowing from non‐representational theory approaches, this paper uses data from the authors' 2‐year Economic and Social Research Council research project to consider how local urban parks can work as sites of routine encounter, mixity, and place belonging. The paper explores how parks as green public spaces are important as sites of inclusive openness while the materiality of parks is a key dynamic in affective encounter processes. Parks can work as animators of social interactions, participatory practices, and place affinities across ethnic and cultural difference. The paper concludes that the concept of convivial encounter can be extended to incorporate the concept of elective practices – choosing to be in shared public space can generate connective sensibilities that are not necessarily contingent on exchange. In using parks as a lens to examine localities and diversity, the paper critically reflects on research practices for understanding and describing heterogeneous formations of multiculture and outlines how the project's research design and the fieldwork methods sought to carefully and appropriately undertake research with complexly different places and populations.
Urban Studies (1988)
Contemporary provision of open spaces within cities rests largely on professional assumptions about its significance in the lives of residents. This paper presents results from the Greenwich Open Space Project which used qualitative research with four, in-depth discussion groups to determine the design of a questionnaire survey of households in the borough. The research shows that the most highly valued open spaces are those which enhance the positive qualities of urban life: variety of opportunities and physical settings; sociability and cultural diversity. The findings lend some support to the approach of the urban conservation movement but present a fundamental challenge to the open-space hierarchy embodied in the Greater London Development Plan. The Project identifies a great need for diversity of both natural settings and social facilities within local areas and highlights the potential of urban green space to improve the quality of life of all citizens.