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Public Space and Social Identity

Universitat de Barcelona
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  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Psychology


sintitul-1 Public Space and Social Identity Dr. Sergi Valera Universitat de Barcelona A previous version of this paper was published in Remesar, A (Ed) Urban Regeneration,. A challenge for Public Art. Universitat de Barcelona. Monografies Psico- socio ambientals, 1997 As the presentation of this Semnar emphasizes, public art can involve a variety of public places (parks, streets, public buildings) an it can means sculptures, buildings, street furniture, fontains, bridges and so on. Some of these artistic features can be considered monuments, not so the other ones. As Bohigas said, the monument is the expression of an identity and not a large and rethoric vacuum constructed to hide problematic facts (Bohigas, 1985). But, what it means the expression of an identity?, who can decide the type of identity?, or, which is the role of the urban spaces in relation to this identity? This paper presents some reflections about these ques- tions on the basis of the symbolic urban space concept as a way to generate or consolidate social identities in relation to the environment. An empirical research car- ried out in a neighborhood of Barcelona and implications for urban art and design will be also presented as de- rived form the theoretical framework. urban social identity We can to begin with an example taken from the daily experience. We are in a party and someone introcuces a person completely unknowed for us. Inmediatly, we will try to know something about this person. There is a need to identify him to settle common features and to establish a social interaction. So, probably, one of the firts ques- tions we ask him will be: Where are you from? or Where do you live? that’s to say, we will try to identify this person on the basis of a spatial categories. As such, even though from the social psychology disci- pline there exists an extensive theoretical work on the subject of social identity, seldom social psychologist have concentrated so much attention on environmental aspect

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