Citizenship Inc.

Negotiating Civic Spaces in Post-urban America

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 University of Nottingham
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This article builds on theories of space to suggest that the spatialised public-private dichotomy may be redundant and that civic space has become a more useful language of the success, or otherwise, of publicly accessible spaces. Taking my impetus from the seemingly hyper-privatised space of the shopping mall I argue that private space can be civic space if it encourages, using theorist Iris Marion Young's terminology, 'social justice', and the mixing of diverse peoples and uses. Alongside the shopping mall, I examine the much-hyped Disney town of Celebration in Florida to illustrate how distinctions between public and private space have become increasingly blurred, before concluding with a discussion of recent efforts on both sides of the Atlantic to produce effective design approaches in creating civic space. The approach in this article is more pragmatic than theoretical given the minimal theorising about 'civic space' to date. Although I provide a brief overview of the established literature, most still relies on the 1960s writings of French geographer, Henri Lefebvre, who called for space that 'signifies the right of citizens and city dwellers, and of groups they (on the basis of social relations) constitute, to appear on all networks and circuits of communication, information and exchange.'

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