Common Ground?: Readings and Reflections on Public Space (The Metropolis and Modern Life)

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Public spaces have long been the focus of urban social activity, but investigations of how public space works often adopt only one of several possible perspectives, which restricts the questions that can be asked and the answers that can be considered. In this volume, Anthony Orum and Zachary Neal explore how public space can be a facilitator of civil order, a site for power and resistance, and a stage for art, theatre, and performance. They bring together these frequently unconnected models for understanding public space, collecting classic and contemporary readings that illustrate each, and synthesizing them in a series of original essays. Throughout, they offer questions to provoke discussion, and conclude with thoughts on how these models can be combined by future scholars of public space to yield more comprehensive understanding of how public space works.

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About the Author:

Anthony M. Orum is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago; and Visiting Scholar, Center for Urban Research and Learning, Loyola University, Chicago. He is the 2009 recipient of the American Sociological Association's Robert and Helen Lynd Award for lifetime achievement and service. In 2007 and 2008, he was a Fulbright Scholar at Fudan University in Shanghai, China where he began his first systematic studies of public spaces. He also has written, among other books, Introduction to Political Sociology, the most recent edition of which was co-authored with John Dale. 

Zachary P. Neal is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Global Urban Studies at Michigan State University. In addition to public space, he has written about restaurants as urban cultural markers, the influence of networks among cities on their economic development, and quantitative methodology in the social sciences.

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