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Half citizens (1): forms of control in urban space

In addition to the traditional categories of analysis, some useful criteria for urban planners and experts in recognizing the nature of public and collective spaces, those spaces that allow to increase citizenship practices.


The literature that studies the functioning of urban public spaces usually observes individual and social behavior in space to identify minimal design factors (such as urban design) capable of making them more hospitable, usable by potential users.

The main idea is that it is possible to distinguish areas, specific areas within a space, which have characteristics that allow or inhibit certain individual and social behaviors.

Particularly the attention is focused on studying those spatial characteristics that create "the individual predisposition for sociality (or even sociability) practices, which can be defined as the propensity to listen and dialogue with strangers.

Thus, starting from experimental studies in particular social environments, such as schools and hospitals, particular configurations of spaces have been observed, in the distinction between rooms and corridors, in the structuring of interior spaces, in the arrangement of chairs and tables, they inhibit or favor behavior of sociality, functioning as rooms for social interaction.

Conversely, other spaces seem to favor the defense of privacy and intrusion in the sphere of one's own personal space from others.

It is interesting to observe how practices more focused on sociality or privacy are strongly related to the forms of space control, territoriality. By territoriality we mean the power to control the space for the control of social relations, exercised at an individual, social, even economic and political level.

Observing the forms of control in urban space is useful to the extent that it allows us to look at the types of social practices rather than the formal and legal characteristics in defining an urban space for its public, collective value.

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