Public Participation

“When public spaces are successful […] they will increase opportunities to participate in communal activity. This fellowship in the open nurtures the growth of public life, which is stunted by the social isolation of ghettos and suburbs. In the parks, plazas, markets, waterfronts, and natural areas of our cities, people from different cultural groups can come together in a supportive context of mutual enjoyment. As these experiences are repeated, public spaces become vessels to carry positive communal meanings” (Carr,Francis, Rivlin and Stone, 1993, p. 344)

I open this post with this quote hoping that some of you will agree and others of you disagree with this, and let me know why, no matter which side of the street (argument) you stand on. As a firm believer in equality and just practices, I believe public places are to be enjoyed by all and that there is “a strong relationship [that] exists between urban public space, civic culture, and political formation” (Ash Amin, 2006), as the quote above identifies.

Public space – the places we all participate in freely and openly and mostly in a just and organised manner, whether that be more traditional places such as parks, movie theatres, newspapers etc., or more conventional, like social media, online media outlets or even chat rooms. The civic culture is pluralistic, and “based on communication and persuasion, a culture of consensus and diversity, a culture that [permits] change but [moderates] it” (Almond and Verba 1963, 8).

Public space, civic culture and political formation are all concepts of which all change within the dynamic of our society, and which mean different things to different people. This is based off shared experiences, cultural diversity and accessible resources in forms of education, political standings and sought-out/learned behaviours. In terms of ethical behaviour and media consumption as a whole, “The dynamics of gathering in, and passing through, streets, squares, parks, libraries, cultural and leisure centres, are more likely to be interpreted in terms of their impact on cultures of consumption, practices of negotiating the urban environment, and social response to anonymous others, than in terms of their centrality in shaping civic and political culture” (Ash Amin, 2006).

When I talk about ethical behaviour, I am not a big believer of being able to take photos or videos of public spaces, widely accessible to anyone, without others permissions. Although those in this media in these spaces are unanimously anonymous, there a privacy concerns that I am not quite fond of. For example, what if there was lets say, a police officer walking down the street out of uniform and then bam a person snaps a photo and posts it to their Facebook/Instagram page (which then legally passes all profits and copyrighted information onto Facebook), and then an ex-criminal who was put behind bars by this police officer sees the image and gets more information about this guy and then proceeds to act upon this new information, not resulting in a positive outcome, the person who snapped the photo could potentially be an accessory to whatever the outcome may be, although a long-shot, this photo could be the leading piece of material that lead to the misfortune of said police officer (don’t think that this is a long shot, I know if it happening, more frequently then you may think).

Some people prefer to remain completely anonymous and out of the public eye, and yes there is the argument of staying away from public spaces and then there would be no trouble at all, but that would be such an inconvenient and sheltered life those people would live, simply because others don’t want to participate in an ethical society, as I see it. Media material of urban areas and public spaces should only be used with a purpose (conducting surveys, potential development etc.) and should contribute to our civic society.

Studying ethnography can be done ethically and without privacy issues, but in a society bent on control, it’s nearly impossible to go unseen.

So for this weeks task, I didn’t really need to jump over many hurdles of participating in an ethical society, well the way I see it anyway. I haven’t revealed the identity of anyone in the following images, although it is clear that are viewing media in a public space. You might have a different view than I, so please voice it below.

Resources,. ‘Almond And Verba’s Civic Culture’. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.

Amin, Ash. ‘Public Space: Collective Culture And Urban Public Space’. N.p., 2006. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.


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