Public spaces allow people to meet on ostensibly neutral ground, within the context of the whole community.
Social interactions in urban public places draws on a unique study of nine public spaces within one English town viewed across a whole year, carried out by a large team of local observers working alongside academics. The report describes the use of green spaces, commercial and civic spaces, and local neighbourhoods; investigates interactivity within and between people of different age groups; highlights self-regulation as an essential element of the management of public spaces; considers the role of reputation in perceptions of particular places and discusses public involvement in regeneration and the democratising role of public places.
Good quality public spaces are integral to 'Cleaner, Safer, Greener', 'Sustainable Communities' and 'Community Cohesion' policies. Yet many public spaces are subject to competition between different users, of different ages, with conflicting ideas about their appropriate use. The study will be of interest to policy makers, practitioners and academics concerned with public space, community cohesion, community involvement, and intergenerational relationships, and anyone interested in the social life of towns.
Caroline Holland is a Research Associate at The Open University. Andrew Clark was a Research Fellow at The Open University and is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. Jeanne Katz is Senior Lecturer and Sheila Peace is Professor of Social Gerontology, both at The Open University.
Background; 'Social interactions in urban public places': aims and methods; Introducing the study location; Interactions in places; Social interactions; Managing and regenerating public spaces; Discussion.