Annual RC21 Conference 2011

The struggle to belong. Dealing with diversity in 21st century urban settings
Amsterdam (The Netherlands), July 7-9 2011

Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research – Urban Studies
University of Amsterdam – The Netherlands

12. Belonging, exclusion, public and quasi-public space

Globalisation, individualisation and migration impact on senses of belonging in cities. One of the urban themes which receives attention from scholars is public space. For a liveable and pleasant atmosphere in public space – streets, squares and parks – it is arguably important that users of different ethnic origin, class background, sex and age have a common or partly linked sense of belonging. On the other hand, it might be that a blasé attitude (as discussed by Simmel) is more apposite in relation to fostering mutual conviviality in urban public space rather than a clearly defined sense of belonging. Belonging is determined by factors such as the physical environment and local place images and symbols, which may be influenced by urban and national images of place and community. The discussion of quasi-public space  resembles to a large extent the one of public space, but commercial companies can enact exclusionary practices that restrict access to  particular groups.
People employ strategies to obtain a sense of belonging linked to both public and quasi-public space. Such strategies are time and place specific and may be influenced by interventions of citizens, community organisations, welfare organisations, municipality or the police.

We are looking for papers addressing topics like:

  • the symbolic meanings of public and quasi-public space
  • nostalgia, memory and public space
  • streets, squares and parks as spaces of interaction
  • surveillance and security in public and quasi-public space
  • exclusionary strategies by elites to keep ‘others’ out of public space
  • generational, ethnic, gender and class conflicts and co-operation over the use of public space
  • consumption and markets in public space
  • shopping malls as quasi-public space

Peer Smets, VU University, Amsterdam. Email:
Paul Watt, Birkbeck, University of London. Email:

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21 December 2011
Deadline for abstract submission

10 January 2011
Notification of selected abstracts

1 March 2011
Registration open

15 May 2011
Deadline for early bird registration and for (some) hotel options

15 May 2011
Deadline for paper submission

15 June 2011
Papers online

7-9 July 2011