Ethnographic understandings of ethnically diverse neighbourhoods to inform urban design practice

Rishbeth, C., Ganji, F. and Vodicka, G. 2018. Ethnographic understandings of ethnically diverse neighbourhoods to inform urban design practice. Local Environment. 23 (1), pp. 36-53. doi:10.1080/13549839.2017.1385000

TitleEthnographic understandings of ethnically diverse neighbourhoods to inform urban design practice
TypeJournal article
AuthorsRishbeth, C., Ganji, F. and Vodicka, G.
Abstract

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.

Keywordspublic space
ethnicity
diversity
urban design
JournalLocal Environment
Journal citation23 (1), pp. 36-53
ISSN1354-9839
Year2018
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Publisher's versionEthnographic understandings of ethnically diverse neighbourhoods to inform urban design practice.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/13549839.2017.1385000
Web address (URL)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13549839.2017.1385000
Publication dates
Published online10 Oct 2017
Published in print2018
LicenseCC BY 4.0

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