Conceptualising Space and Place: Lessons from Geography for the Debate on Privacy in Public
Bert-Jaap Koops & Maša Galič (2017), ‘Conceptualising space and place: Lessons from geography for the debate on privacy in public’, in: T. Timan, B.C. Newell & B.J. Koops (eds), Privacy in Public Space: Conceptual and Regulatory Challenges (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar), p. 19-46.
29 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2018
Date Written: November 1, 2017
In this literature review, we survey the rich scholarship in human geography on the conceptualisation of space and place, aiming to make it accessible to legal, governance and other scholars engaged in the debate on (the right to) privacy in public spaces. Many legal, governance and other scholars still tend to think of physical place and space (expressions often used interchangeably) as empty and neutral containers relating to territory: straightforwardly empirical, objective and mappable. Human geography shows that space and place are relational, socially co-produced, and dynamic. The construction of ‘places’, including places in public space, is intricately related to issues of access control, power relations, and identity-building. Particularly since the 1990s, the ongoing transformation of urban public space, including shifts in design, management, financing, and the proliferation of (digital) surveillance (the ‘privatisation’ and ‘securitisation’ of public space) has emerged as a key focus of geographical concern. While geography’s insights are invaluable for researching and regulating the shifting urban spaces and places in relation to privacy in public, geographic research has often not yet reached the debate on this topic. This chapter remedies this gap by discussing, through a lawyer’s lens, key literature on (public) space and place, mapping out and highlighting different ways of thinking about public space and place in relation to major themes of context, power, and identity, and thereby opening up this rich area to scholars grappling with the regulation of public space.
Keywords: space, place, human geography, privacy, public/private distinction, power, identity
JEL Classification: K10, K42, O18, O38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation