Ethnographic understandings of ethnically diverse neighbourhoods to inform urban design practice

RISHBETH, Clare, GANJI, Farnaz and VODICKA, Goran (2017). Ethnographic understandings of ethnically diverse neighbourhoods to inform urban design practice. Local Environment, 23 (1), 36-53.

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The aim of this paper is to inform urban design practice through deeper understanding and analysis of the social dynamics of public outdoor space in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods. We hypothesise that findings from ethnographic research can provide a resource that improves cultural literacy and supports social justice in professional practice. The primary method is a meta-synthesis literature review of 24 ethnographic research papers, all of which explore some dimensions of public open space use and values in UK urban contexts characterised by ethnic and racial diversity. We summarise thematic understandings and significance of neighbourhood places of shared activity, parks, spaces of passing-by and of retreat. We evaluate the implications for intercultural social dynamics, exploring the spatial and temporal dimensions of conviviality and racism in public open space. We then argue that it is possible to develop principles for urban design practice informed by this work, and propose four for discussion: maximising straightforward participation, legitimising diversity of activity, designing in micro-retreats of nearby quietness and addressing structural inequalities of open space provision. We conclude that ethnographic research can provide detailed insights into the use of the public realm and also inform a more nuanced understanding of outdoor sociality relevant for an increasingly diverse society. The challenge is two-fold: for ethnographers to become less cautious in engaging with decisions and priorities regarding how cities change, and for urban designers to explicitly embed informed understandings of difference into their broad desire for inclusive public space.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: peerreview_statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope. aims_and_scope_url:
Uncontrolled Keywords: 05 Environmental Sciences; 12 Built Environment And Design; 16 Studies In Human Society; Urban & Regional Planning
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities > Department of Natural and Build Environment
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Page Range: 36-53
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2018 12:01
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 01:21

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