Sociologický časopis
Czech sociological review


← Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review 1/2013

Pavel Pospěch:
The Urban Public Space: An Interpretative Approach [75]

Pospěch, Pavel. 2013. „Městský veřejný prostor: interpretativní přístup.“ Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review 49 (1): 75-100

Abstract: This article presents a theoretical discussion of the concept of public space with respect to its multidimensional nature, its normativity and historicity, and its relationship to private space. Based on de Certeau’s distinction between place and space, public space is analysed as a phenomenon transcending the material reality of a city. It is argued that public space is established in the process of interaction between the social reality of the city on the one hand and its regulative processes on the other. The former refers in particular to the phenomenological duality of urban public places, which are perceived as attractive and threatening at the same time. The latter includes internal and external processes of behavioural regulation. Following the classic works of Goffman and Lofland and current research on urban civility and interaction, it is argued that internal regulation establishes an ‘urban order’ that governs the rules of interaction and behaviour in the urban public space. In conclusion, an interpretative approach to the urban public space is suggested. In this view, the public space, while physically framed by the city’s material reality, is itself a process of constant production and reproduction of shared meanings attached to places. As a shared stock of knowledge, it is also subject to learning and ongoing negotiation.

Keywords: city, public space, urban order, social control, rules of conduct

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