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Democracy and Public SpaceThe Physical Sites of Democratic Performance$
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John R. Parkinson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199214563

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199214563.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 June 2021

Place and Politics

Place and Politics

(p.71) 4 Place and Politics
Democracy and Public Space

John R. Parkinson

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers claims that spatial arrangements affect political behaviour. This matters for the overall project because it helps us to understand exactly what is at stake politically when it comes to battles over public space. The chapter begins by examining the micro-level claim, that physical form affects political action. The chapter argues that it does, but in nuanced ways that have to do with the distinction between ‘space’, the form itself, and ‘place’, that form filled with cultural, political, and historical associations, the form as used by people in a particular context. This then leads to the idea that form itself is structured by its processes of production, the political economy of space. It is argued that while different political economic structures are likely to deliver different kinds of public space, this matters less than believers might fear, and more than sceptics might think. The chapter concludes with a summary of the interpretive framework that will be applied in Part II to understanding particular cases, and in Part III to construct criteria for evaluating public space in democratic cities.

Keywords:   spatial arrangements, political behaviour, public space, form

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