Project

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Making Sense of Segregation in Public Space

Applicant Widmer Hannah
Number 191505
Funding scheme Doc.CH
Research institution Institut de géographie et durabilité (IGD) Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.06.2020 - 31.05.2024
Approved amount 249'964.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Social geography and ecology
Sociology

Keywords (6)

urban segregation; public space; urban studies; public life; diversity; co-presence

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Begegnungen von Fremden ist eine spezifisch urbane Qualität. Diese Begegnungen von Personen, die sich unbekannt und/oder in einem oder mehreren Aspekten anders sind, finden grösstenteils im öffentlichen Raum statt. Doch wessen Wege kreuzen sich tatsächlich? Und welche Personen haben derart unterschiedliche Alltagsroutinen, dass sie sich weder sehen noch miteinander agieren im öffentlichen Raum?
Lay summary

Die Tatsache, dass sich Wohnort, Arbeitsort, (Freizeit-)Aktivitäten und Mobilitätsverhalten einer Person etwa je nach Einkommen, Bildung, Geschlecht oder Alter stark unterscheiden, kann dazu führen, dass sich bestimmte Bevölkerungsgruppen in ihrem Alltag nie begegnen. Personen können einen öffentlichen Platz aber auch aus bestimmten Gründen meiden: abweisende Gestaltung, fehlendes Sicherheitsgefühl, unpassende Nutzungen. Somit steht der öffentliche Raum in einem Spannungsfeld zwischen reizvoller Diversität und potenziell beunruhigender Präsenz von Fremden.

Dieses Projekt untersucht die Segregation im öffentlichen Raum anhand verschiedener Plätze in Zürich. Es hat zum Ziel, Segregationsmuster aufzudecken und ihre räumliche und zeitliche Struktur zu analysieren. Dabei wird auch untersucht, wie Segregation erfahren und (re-)produziert wird. Die Erforschung der Bedeutung räumlicher und zeitlicher Ent- oder Durchmischung für die Bewohnerinnen und Bewohner einer Stadt trägt zur Debatte über Diversität und Segregation in Wissenschaft, Planung und Wohnpolitik bei.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 02.12.2021

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Encounters with strangers, i.e. people who are unknown to us and/or different from us in one or more aspects, are a specifically urban quality. These encounters largely take place in public space. But whose paths actually cross? And whose everyday routines differ so much that they neither see nor interact with each other in public space?
Lay summary

The fact that places of residence, places of work, activities and mobility behaviour differ considerably according to income, education, gender, age, etc. may prevent certain population groups from encountering each other in their everyday lives. However, people may also avoid a public space for certain reasons: an unpleasant design, a lack of a sense of security, unsuitable uses. Thus, public space is caught between the promise of exciting diversity and the potentially unsettling presence of strangers.

This project analyses social diversity in public space by conducting research on different public squares in Zurich. It aims to uncover patterns of segregation and analyse their spatial and temporal dimensions. It also examines how segregation is experienced and (re-)produced by users of public space. Research into the significance of spatial and temporal segregation for the residents of a city will contribute to the debate on diversity and segregation in social science, planning and housing policy.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 02.12.2021

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Between the home and the square: bridging boundaries of public space Talk given at a conference Diverse patterns of co-presence? Everyday use of public squares in Zurich 22.10.2021 Thessaloniki (online), Greece Widmer Hannah;


Abstract

Encounters with strangers and exposure to difference are specific urban qualities. The common narrative frames this diversity as positive, desirable and essentially urban, even though it is highly ambivalent from a scientific perspective. Besides, very little is known about the actual nature of these encounters with strangers. Whose paths cross in public space and whose do not? This project addresses this question by analysing public space segregation. Segregation is defined as the separation of social groups in space and can occur along the lines of criteria such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, gender or life course. By studying segregation in public space, this project contributes to the understanding of urban segregation and issues of social inequality related to it.The aim of the project is to thoroughly analyse segregation in public space in all its dimensions and identify factors relevant to the mix of people and to the kind of interactions taking place between them. Moreover, the common narrative of enjoyable diversity is critically questioned by examining people’s perception of and attitudes towards diversity in public space. These objectives are met by studying three squares in Zurich with a multidimensional and mixed methods approach. Segregation in public space is analysed by means of quantitative surveys and observations. The levels of residential segregation and functional diversity of the surrounding neighbourhoods, which could influence public space segregation, are calculated based on administrative data. The conceptualization, planning and maintenance of the squares could also be of relevance and are therefore studied with documentary research and interviews with planners and the administration. Additionally, qualitative in-depth interviews are conducted to understand people’s experience of diversity in public space.The project makes an important contribution to the studies of public life and urban segregation by closing a significant research gap regarding segregation in public space. Its innovative and comprehensive research design will generate findings relevant to academic research and with a broader impact on the fields of planning, urban development and housing policy.
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