Public seminar: Responsive regulation of urban public spaces and their diverse social uses

In the UK and elsewhere, crime, disorder and (in)security have become organizing objectives of urban governance with distinct implications for the manner in which public spaces are planned, designed and regulated. This presentation seeks to reframe debates about the regulation of public space, conceptualized as ‘mediated conviviality’. This perspective simultaneously decentres crime and (in)security as central organizing concepts and recognizes the importance of safety to the development of a convivial public realm. It will be argued that public spaces cannot be completely self-governing; their diverse uses require proactive and responsive management by municipal authorities. In doing so, certain assumptions are challenged that inform a number of competing mentalities regarding the regulation of public spaces drawn from within the fields of criminology and urban studies, notably ‘preventive exclusion’, ‘reassurance policing’ and the ‘right to the city’.

The presentation draws on insights from two studies of ex-industrial cities (Leeds and Bradford) in the North of England to explore the inter-connectedness between the diverse uses of urban public spaces and approaches to their regulation and management by municipal authorities seeking to foster ‘ameliorative co-existence’: toleration of social and cultural differences combined with attempts to moderate the expectations and behaviours of users of public space so that they ‘get along’ better (adapted from Bannister and Kearns 2013). Certain responsive regulatory strategies can help to foster vibrant public spaces, support culturally diverse uses and nurture belonging, but also how such strategies could be resisted and opposed by different actors.

  • Title: Responsive regulation of urban public spaces and their diverse social uses: Insights from two cities in the North of England’
  •  Speaker: Dr Anna Barker, Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, University of Leeds, UK
  • When: Thursday 19th April 3-4pm
  • Where: Room W349 Forgan Smith Building, St Lucia