Social Geography discussing public spaces as places where everyone is welcome and is free to express their identity.
Uploaded by kat_112 on May 21, 2012
Public spaces are defined as places where there is inclusion, open mindedness, equality, and acceptance, no matter where an individual stands in the rank of society (Iveson 2003; Iveson 2007; Nolan 2003) But public spaces are often not always what they should be and this is because dominant groups, politics, culture, and power dictates who is in and out of place and the appropriate uses of these spaces (Valentine 2007) This highly critical and political view of public spaces means that identities are constantly changing to adapt to different spaces and different contexts, they’re never fixed (Valentine 2007). This essay will explore how public spaces are not always places where everyone is welcome and are free to express their identity through the key points of identity constructed through norms of belonging, power and status determining inclusion/exclusion in public spaces and influence of politics on belonging in public spaces.
Identity Constructed Through Norms of Belonging
Identity in public spaces as addressed above, are fluid and ever changing in different spatial contexts (Valentine 2007). One of the reasons for this is because different public spaces are governed by different norms that deem what is acceptable and what is not (Nolan 2003). It can be suggested then that, in many public spaces individuals adhere to the socially accepted norms, and don’t freely express their identity. For example young women attending night clubs detailed how you must ‘dress up’ and adhere to certain feminine stereotypes (showing cleavage) to gain entry from bouncers (Waitt, Jessop, & Gorman-Murray 2011). For the girls studied in this article, norms about clubs/pubs spaces dictated their identities when they went out and ‘dressed up’, thus they were conforming to the objective male gazes and not freely expressing identity (Waitt, Jessop, & Gorman-Murray 2011).
Power and Status Determining Inclusion/Exclusion in Public Spaces
Public spaces are not always a place where everyone is welcome and free to express their identity, and this is partially due to social powers and their locations within our society. The locations of power concerns the way groups and individuals are viewed within society (Iveson 2007, Dunn 2001). Many groups are excluded, not tolerated, frowned upon and feared, simply because they do not fit the conventional use of space decided by a general majority (Iveson 2007, Nolan 2003, Dunn 2001). As discussed by Iveson (2007) public spaces are becoming more neo-liberalised as a result of globalisation and capitalist underpinnings. These...