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Shopping in the Public Realm: The Law of Place

Antonia Layard

Bristol Law School

May 15, 2010

Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp. 412-441, 2010

Through a case study based in Bristol, this article explores how the ‘law of place’ has transformed multiple heterogeneous city centre spaces into a single homogenous and commodified privately owned retail site. Drawing on de Certeau, Lefebvre, and humanistic geographers including Tuan, the article explores how law facilitates spatial and temporal enclosure through conventional understandings of private property, relying on techniques of masterplanning, compulsory purchase, and stopping up the highways. It suggests that the law of place draws on binary spatial and conceptual distinctions to apparently separate places from spaces, applying different legal rules either side of an often invisible boundary line. The article questions this legally facilitated spatial and conceptual enclosure, particularly as it restricts spatial practices within the spatial realm. It concludes by rejecting an urban ‘right to roam’ as insufficiently transformative, calling instead for a broader interpretation of Lefebvre’s ‘right to the city’ instead.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: privatisation of public space, place, space, de Certeau, Lefebvre, Tuan, Massey, Harvey, urban, right to roam, retail, public realm

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Date posted: July 22, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Layard, Antonia, Shopping in the Public Realm: The Law of Place (May 15, 2010). Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp. 412-441, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1646254

Contact Information

Antonia Layard (Contact Author)
Bristol Law School ( email )
Bristol Law School
Wills Memorial Building
Bristol, BS8 1RJ
United Kingdom
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