Public Spaces: Times of Crisis and Change: Volume 15

Cover of Public Spaces: Times of Crisis and Change
Subject:

Table of contents

(18 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xi
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Part I: Introduction

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Part II: Urban Images, Urbanism, and Public Spaces

Abstract

The authors begin the chapter with the contemporary discussion on the crisis of public spaces and use a Simmelian regarding to focus on two dimensions of this debate. First, the meaning of the thesis that argues the death of the public areas of large cities. Then, the relevance of the category public spaces, using the diversity of types of spaces and types of interaction that are associated with and try to show why they cannot be reduced and homogeneously represented. Hence, from research conducted in Brazil and Portugal, the authors illustrate the various dimensions of public spaces with examples of conflicts and appropriations from its everyday uses.

Abstract

The aim of the chapter is to analyze the attitudes of young city inhabitants toward the traditional urban space (city center, neighborhood) and commercial space (the mall). When they spend their time, where are the places important for their individual activity and group identities? What role is played in their lives by the urban center and what by the mall? I searched for the answers to these questions using studies carried out on teenagers from two Polish cities: Krakow and Katowice (qualitative research: expert interviews and observations; followed by questionnaires on two samples: the first comprised 838 teenagers aged 13–16 attending secondary schools from the cities). The empirical research indicates two models of the urban spaces of young city inhabitants: the first one with strong meaning of the city center (which does not correlate with the everyday practices) and the second with “absent” traditional center and relatively strong neighborhoods. The neighborhood has the biggest potential for socializing young people as the citizens; the city center and the mall are – for teenagers – rather the spaces for “consuming.” It is vital to understand the developing typical relations of young people with urban spaces to see what the “city is becoming.”

Abstract

This chapter investigates sidewalk sociability and neighborhood use, by focusing on the regular encounter of a group of retired men to play cards on their neighborhood’s main street. Direct and ethnographic observations were used on one Lisbon suburban working and lower middle-classes residential district.

Sidewalk card-playing is understood as “focused gathering” (Goffman, 1971a) and this concept discloses the social organization of a public gaming held encounter and the specific rules created to regulate interactions between players and their audience. The sidewalk sociability effects produced by card-playing are interpreted as originating from “triangulation stimuli” (Lofland, 1998; Whyte, 2002) and “sociability pillar” construction (Charmés, 2006).

Card-playing encounters are discussed in detail as a practical and symbolical neighborhood-use (Blokland, 2003) enacted by an elder-men peer-group. Research underscores the relationship between the elderly peer-group members’ practices and the neighborhood’s public space appropriation, their public characters’ attributes (Jacobs, 1972) and behavior, and social construction of a sidewalk small social place. Among aged peer-group members, sidewalk card-playing accounts for an increase in social and psychological benefits, ranging from social contacts to memories self-expression, derived either from the gaming situation or from its pervasive sociability.

Abstract

The chapter addresses the issue of contemporary public space. In the urban setting, social groups form different publics that become mutually inter-visible in public spaces: relational arenas, in which it is possible to learn living with strangers, recognizing the right to the city for all people. In contemporary city, some theories argue that we would assist to the crisis of public space. Indeed, the forming of a public realm is more difficult, because social groups build separate and self-segregating routes, and urban public spaces are increasingly privatized, controlled, and reorganized to be more compatible with the global city, the city-users, and the hypermobile upper classes.

Shifting the attention to Sala Borsa (a public library in the centre of Bologna), the authors argue that the changes in the socio-spatial morphology of contemporary cities do not prevent the forming of a public arena, accessible also to the marginal groups, as the homeless. Because of its centrality, its free access, its innovative and multimedia environment, Sala Borsa is a crowded, lively, and symbolic public space. In this public library, social groups appropriate different spaces and times through the production of porous boundaries. Nevertheless, the identity of public-library-user taken once in Sala Borsa produces an inclusive regime of inter-visibility, where also homeless people are present.

Abstract

Since the 1990s transition period and especially since 2000 public space in Croatia has repeatedly been violated by private interest. This is visible in coastal regions, rural landscapes, urban green areas, parks, squares, and streets which have been completely or partly privatized. Urban actors (economic, political, civil, and professional) play different roles in these changes, and there is a hierarchy in their relations: economic and political actors are very powerful and have a prominent place in urban and suburban spatial transformations. Civil society actors and professionals, on the other hand, have very little control or influence. Urban actors have different interests and conflicting opinions. The results of our research (qualitative research method of semi-structured interviews with various experts) show that today spatial changes are mostly dictated by economic actors in a close alliance with political actors. It is therefore vital that in future we clearly define public space and public interest and educate society about their importance. Only then can inadequate private intervention in public space be prevented and a balance between private and public interest be restored with all actors making decisions together. This is, after all, a real, participatory democracy that all transition societies (including Croatia) aim to achieve.

Part III: Culture, Arts, and Public Spaces

Abstract

The chapter is concerned with the policy led by Paris and London towards the visual artists during the XXth century up to the present day. It examines in detail the evolution of the political system developed in France – as Paris was the center of artistic culture – from philanthropic initiatives, the “cités d’artistes,” to the introduction of painters and sculptors in social lodgings in the 1920s by the City of Paris. This impulse was supported by the Ministry of Culture. The expression of welfare state promoting artists in Paris is opposed to the emergence of “arts infrastructure” in the former industrial buildings of London through various artists’ associations, such as Space and Acme. From an historical research and a sociological analysis concentrated on Paris and its suburbs, our fieldwork, we studied an emblematic example, Montmarte-aux-artists, located in the 18th arrondissement the evolution of the welfare politics concerning artists’ studios in the urban renovation of Paris up to the present day. In contrast, the social support concerning the artists living in London is opposite and the effects on the urban area are different. Our research is inspired from the School of Chicago methodology. The main results of our research underline how the introduction of artists’ studios in social lodgings reveals an utopian dimension linked to the artist. So, the artist is considered as a singular inhabitant who can encourage the empowerment in the social housings or who can contribute to the phenomenon of gentrification in an area. However, the utopian role given to the artists is limited to the social and political system.

Abstract

The organization of events in public spaces in the cities of Oporto, Vila Nova de Gaia (both in Portugal), and Barcelona (Spain) led us to propose a classification of thematic cities. The conclusions are the result of social representations of organizers and sponsors in the three cities and, thus, it is a qualitative study carried out in research Ph.D. in Sociology at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Oporto. We propose the presentation of some events organized in three public spaces – Aliados Avenue in Oporto, Cais de Gaia’s waterfront in Vila Nova de Gaia, and Ramblas in Barcelona – to make its framing in terms of objectives, motivations, and public. We also appealed to the social representations of interviewees to evaluate the quality and structure of public spaces in the two cities in the metropolitan area of Oporto in comparison with the Catalan city. Finally, we propose the typification of the three cities according to the features presented throughout the chapter.

Abstract

The intervention that is taking place in Mouraria falls into urban revitalization policies targeting territories in the inner city and relating the requalification of public space to socio-economic development as well as cultural promotion in order to attract new audiences, namely tourists. It intends to redefine the strong symbolic load of these places in order to help to position the city on the international scene as a destination to visit. These transformations involve different actors and various strategies and in this sense, the line of research aims to understand the position that the different local groups adopt as well as which conflicts and alliances are formed in the urban space marked by a tangle of distinct dynamics.

Abstract

During Gezi Protests of June 2013, hundred thousands of people from different and even opposite groups were together on the streets of Turkey against government for a month. The abruptness, severity, diversity and creativity of Gezi Movement make it unique among urban movements in Turkey. Protesters not only challenged the police violence and authoritarian policies but also defended public spaces of their city. My analysis of Gezi Movement is based on the comparison of Lefebvre, Harvey, and Bookchin who all integrated the critique of capitalism and revolutionary vision into urban movements. However, they are different in terms of what revolution, city, class, citizen, and urban social movements are. Gezi Movement is discussed through the similarities and differences of three approaches.

Gezi Movement is a good example of New Social Movements which lacks an organization, hierarchy and a leader. As an urban movement it provided a glimpse of heterotopia of Lefebvre where many different groups and identities challenge the abstract space of neoliberal capitalism. The protesters, as the producers and the consumers of urban commons claimed Gezi Park and Taksim Square as Harvey stated. The transformation of protests into neighborhood forums despite losing power and participation shows the civic potential of urban movement that may develop direct democracy of citizens as a revolutionary alternative to capitalism. The spatial analysis of Gezi Movement provided insight to the revolutionary potential of urban movements in neoliberal age.

Abstract

The landscape of European cities is by no means homogeneous. Nonetheless, the same type of conflict has repeatedly occurred in different places in the last few years: From Seville to Vienna, from Cologne to St. Petersburg, planned high-rise buildings for inner city districts have provoked fervent arguments and debates. Whether and how European cities should integrate more high-rise buildings is a highly controversial question. This chapter focuses on strategies of vertical construction and related debates about the cityscape in both Paris and Vienna. By studying the urban constellations of Paris and Vienna, it can be shown that what may look comparable at first glance is the outcome of highly different strategies and histories.

Although both cities define themselves to a wide degree with reference to historic structures, the image of tall buildings varies drastically in these cities, which correlates with these cities’ diverse histories and hence experiences with high-rise buildings. Path dependencies and the ways individual cities receive international trends are crucial to understanding processes of urbanization. Based on in-depth interviews with various urban actors and other relevant qualitative data, this chapter aims to demonstrate that a city’s high-rise strategy cannot be attributed to any single factor; rather, it is the result of a complex interplay between various aspects and actors, which crucially includes present and past struggles over cityscapes and therefore over urban spaces.

Abstract

Links between urban areas and public space have always had a central presence in the field of Urban Sociology. During the last four decades, and in relation with globalization processes, reflection about city places and what constitutes the “public” has increasingly been in line with what has been called an “emplacing heritage process,” which emerged as a controversial point of intervention in urban areas. In this sense, itineraries have been considered of primary importance in urban heritage signification, recognition, and symbolic production. In short, these routes appear as ways in which public space is materially and symbolically occupied, becoming emplacing heritage processes in themselves.

In this chapter, we study two heritage-making processes through neighborhood itineraries, which are carried out in district territory and are located in two peripheral neighborhoods belonging to the City of Madrid (Hortaleza and Carabanchel). Ultimately, the point here is that these routes are not merely a pathway that “goes” along acknowledged heritage places; these itineraries are an emplacement and a signification of patrimony itself. These processes act as markers of iconic places and as remembrance performances of neighborhood memory. We would argue that routes around historical places in Carabanchel, as well as the “Three Wise Men” popular parades in Hortaleza bring shared geographical imaginaries, collective memory, and iconic places together in everyday experiences of both places. These itineraries change both urban sites in terms of their neighborhood heritage by disputing spatial discourses and imaginaries of heritage, urban place, and neighborhood.

Part IV: The (Re) Structuration of Public Spaces

Abstract

The current state of globalization is aggravating the inequalities within globalized cities and is generating a high degree of conflict. If we seek to find out to what extent ghettos, agents in conflict or if there is a situation of unsustainable imbalance caused by this degree of inequality, we should consider the objective data and the social consciousness of stratification enclosed in social interaction of the people living in neighborhoods in global cities. This chapter explains how we can study this topic with an example: a town in the Metropolitan Area of Madrid in 2012, with a theoretical perspective that asks about how the human space is today and how everybody builds his social identification, and a methodology that uses the problem-centered interview to collect data. From this perspective, it is discussed whether the new urban social structure tends to be dual or fragmented. When social awareness is studied, it may be understood that urban people tend to develop fragmented identities today based on leisure and family that bond everyone with other by small groups or weak bonds. However, into a poor urban area, there are other boundaries that a lot of people recognize based on class and ethnic differences that mean polarization and conflict, but these ones work only in particular problematic situations. So, the image of system of stratification in large cities appears to be a dynamic thing, under the influence of a series of different factors which are not only global but also local.

Abstract

In port cities with declining industries, waterfront redevelopment is one major part of the competitive agenda. The increasing economic importance of service, leisure, and tourism industries created an opportunity to reuse urban waterfront areas no longer considered profitable. Parque das Nações in Lisbon is a product of such a process: It’s a newly built mixed-use waterfront neighborhood, planned, and developed, first and foremost, to be the site of Expo ’98. This former industrial and port area has been emerging in the last 15 years as a “showcase” for Lisbon: a piece of the competitive strategy of the Portuguese capital. Its public spaces are an important part of that strategy and have been managed in order to remain particularly safe and clean.

On one hand, Parque das Nações is a socially homogenous elite residential neighborhood, on the other hand, it is emerging as a new metropolitan centrality characterized by an intense mobility and by an increasing concentration of urbanites carrying on work and leisure related activities. It is the coexistence of these two complementary and contradictory dynamics that shapes the interactive logic of public life in the area.

This chapter explores the use, appropriation, and interaction patterns afforded by the public spaces of Parque das Nações. I discard both the idealized conception of public spaces that characterizes them as havens of diversity and accessibility and the more contemporary idea of public spaces as empty spaces that no longer promote encounters with others, serving exclusively as marketing tools for real-estate developers. Instead, I argue that the production of urban areas such as Parque das Nações is a socially unequal process resulting in excessively planned and controlled public spaces. However, when they attract different populations for different reasons, these spaces might foster unexpected, emergent, or even transgressive uses and interactions that promote public space vitality.

Abstract

This study explores the historical development of a deprived class in Messina, a Southern Italian city. By means of 85 in-depth interviews and the analysis of the most important phases of the reconstruction following a disastrous earthquake which took place in 1908, the authors investigate the forces that, over the course of a century, shaped the formation process of an “underclass” living in shanties and deprived project areas within the city. The authors’ hypothesis is that the “economy of disaster” and the “shock economy” are not a specific feature of the current period. On the contrary, the elements characterizing the contemporary disaster-related speculative processes were largely active at the very beginning of the past century. This chapter, then, explores the long-lasting social consequences of speculative approaches to the management of disasters, and reflects on the forms of resistance of subaltern populations to an organization of life that started in the aftermath of a remote earthquake, and still affects their living conditions and ways of reproduction.

Abstract

The chapter aims to analyze an innovative intervention in the context of public housing in Italy. Over the past decade, in Italy, neighborhoods with a high concentration of public housing have increasingly become spaces of exclusion, where conflicts are rife, due to a multiplicity of factors (e.g., immigration, social deprivation, ageing, health problems). In particular, because of the global economic crisis and the impoverishment of Italian families, competition and quarrels between lower middle-class natives and migrants have been exacerbated, undermining the recent fragile pattern of social cohesion. However, housing and urban policies are still residual, especially in the political agenda of mid-sized towns, which witness an ungoverned urban growth not always accompanied by a concurrent complete recognition of citizenship. Moreover, policies tackling rising social tension to reduce or prevent it are lacking. Nonetheless, at a local level, some more dynamic municipalities are starting to promote original initiatives also thanks to the sharing of the best national and international practices. In particular we wish to focus on the social mediation processes implemented to prevent conflict and promote sustainable cohabitation, improving relationships between neighbors and fostering empowerment and participation. In this perspective, the chapter explores a two-year project of social mediation for households living in public housing which has been developed in the Marche region.

Abstract

The city as a form of spatial and social organization was in deep crisis for last years. Now in Poland we deal rather with the renaissance of urbanity. Increasing activity of social movements and the growing importance of civic participation are the most important evidence of this process. This chapter is about the role that public consultation on spatial planning can play in urban policy. The analysis is based on a case study of public consultations conducted with usage of active and innovative approaches. Authors describe the potential of such sociological intervention in solving the crisis of urban communities.

Cover of Public Spaces: Times of Crisis and Change
DOI
10.1108/S1047-0042201715
Publication date
2016-11-05
Book series
Research in Urban Sociology
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78635-463-1
eISBN
978-1-78635-463-1
Book series ISSN
1047-0042