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Title: Knowing one’s place: publicness of public places in Northern Ireland.
Author: Henry, Keith
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 9336
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2015
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Public places, viewed as a core component of cities for centuries, have become a field of research subject to broad concern for more than two decades. Typically under the influence of globalisation and privatisation, attractive and alluring public places have been placed at the centre of both major world and old-industrial cities, competing in search of new niches in competitive urban markets The research undertaken in this thesis represents an inquiry into the nature of public places in Northern Ireland. Its scope is threefold. First, it proposes a means of conceptualising the publicness of public place as a social, historical and cultural product, with publicness defined as the sum of characteristics that make a public place perceived as being public. Second, to create a methodology that acknowledges that there is no homogenous public with a singular standardised experience of public place, and conduct an empirical study that understands the individuality and temporal dynamics that are at work within public places. Third, it tests this methodology on several public place case studies across Northern Ireland to better understand the unique myriad of issues which influence the perceived publicness of public places in Northern Ireland, such as the social turbulent period colloquially referred to as the Troubles. The thesis, informed by the research methodology of new institutionalism, is founded on the understanding that publicness is more complex than perhaps initially understood. Publicness may be understood as a cultural reality and a historical artefact. All public places have been created at a certain time within a specific sociocultural setting, with Madanipour (2003) asserting that public places reflect the society in which they are located. In addition to the cultural reality, public places are shaped by the incidents and events that occur within them with peoples' perceptions of the place being influenced by their own personal experiences or insights of the place. Subsequently, the public place is a historical artefact in a constant state of 'becoming'. This understanding of public places was adopted to study the socially turbulent context of Northern Ireland. The socially embedded sectarianism and segregation that inhibits social interaction between communities, manifested most profoundly within the residential segregation that is prevalent in many urban areas, has had a severe impact upon perceived publicness of public places. The delicately balanced post-conflict society provides an interesting juxtaposition of simmering conflict and waking peace with public places seemingly taking the stage as the fulcrum of the delicate balance that exists within perceived publicness. The social contestation over land and space has had a profound impact on perceptions of ownership but also control and identity of public places to create urban areas in which people 'know one's place'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available