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Which clippings match 'Identity As A Construct' keyword pg.1 of 1
24 NOVEMBER 2008

Re-conceiving the Post modern City: Planning in the Information Age

"The post modern city is experienced as a sequence of several images overlapping and evolving through different scales of space and time (Watson and Gibson 1995). Through the cognitive images of different layers and elements of spatiality, it is possible to perceive the disorder of post modern cities. A fruitful avenue of exploration may well lie in attempting to reveal the unconscious mental mapping and cognitive imaging that people use to construct the city. In so doing this paper attempts to deconstruct or reveal the dense intersection of various cultural practices within public spaces, regarded as offering social meanings whether these coalesce or compete. Such public spaces are both a primary means by which social networks are enacted, and a metaphor for the spatial relationships within city fabric.

Viewing the city through a deconstructive lens, it is possible to see the multiple manifestations of consumption of the post modern city fabric that enact a variety of (re)constructed identities (Fahmi and Howe 2000). The current paper introduces an urban experiment that proposes a (hypothological) city as an open framework of shared grounds/ownership. It includes built and unbuilt schemes as inserted within the fabric of the city, as influenced by history, human experience and contemporary culture. The article however examines the metaphors of space and being as manifest in the rhetoric of virtuality and materializes in real environments. It does so by looking firstly at precedents in the post modern built and media environment which have helped establish a discourse of immateriality upon which the rhetoric of virtuality depends; secondly, at the neo–futurist mechanisms which support the idea of an imaginative space in virtual environments; thirdly, at the appropriation of architectural metaphors that concretize and represent the spatial metaphor. The paper concludes by considering a number of conflicting forces that when initially encountered resisted the subversive rhythms of deconstructivism that challenge the normal stable institutionalized construction of space.

In the information–knowledge culture, existing urban order is being replaced by highly complex new networks. Therefore there is a need to deconstruct the contested (post)modern city, with the current paper aiming to examine the fragmented multi–layered nature of public spaces in an attempt to emphasize the nature and institutionalization of post modern spaces. The examination of such fragmented urban patterns will try to unravel the contested nature of sequential images and overlapping layers of events as they emerge in people's daily interaction, with such social relations being mobilized through public spaces. Such spaces could nonetheless represent the (re) (de) construction of identities with new urban spaces signifying a focus for fragmentation and proliferation of social patterns which are contested and juxtaposed in post modern cities.

Since the post modern city is based on the concept of disintegration of real space in virtuality, a development of new ways of looking at spatiality is needed, with emphasis being made on the changing notion of expression of identity. This latter is however developing in all directions at the same time as a result of new technology, new media environment, and new economy. The disappearance of nation states and emergence of regions will eventually lead to a restructuring of frame of reference (Fahmi, 2000a). In understanding the role of contemporary urban public life it is essential to identify certain aspects which reflect the diversity of the post modern society. Proshansky, Ittelson and Rivlin (1970) emphasized the significance of freedom of choice within public spaces where aspects of privacy, territoriality and avoidance of sense of crowding prevail. If people are involved in the location, design and management of local public spaces they are inclined to negotiate with rules of social interaction, with boundaries of public and private life being blurred (Altman 1975). Following Lefebvre (1991), we see that spaces are conceived as material in the form of design of space, as symbolized in the media and folklore history, and as imagined in the minds of planners, designers and politicians.

Furthermore, Fadd and Jiron (1999) mentioned environmental qualities which involved the representation of various social, cultural and ethnic groups encompassed in the society, with each locating appropriate places. Therefore balancing people's spatial rights (Lynch 1981) or rights of action is a complex task, with public spaces being likely to have heterogeneous population performing different activities at different times. Urban public spaces can facilitate the creation of invisible networks of contacts which weave together the fabric of people–places relationships. On a cognitive level this assists in creating legible cities (Lynch 1960), with the ability to enhance images and memories of places, and to contribute to identities of people. These are components of place identity which can enrich urban life, and make the anonymous city comprehensible, familiar and manageable, whilst meeting users' needs."
(Dr Wael Salah Fahmi, 2001)

TAGS

cityconsumptioncultural practicedisintegrationeconomyenvironment • Fahmi • fluidity of identityfragmentationidentityidentity as a construct • imaginative space • immateriality • invisible networks • ISoCaRP • juxtapositionlayer • legible cities • metaphorownershipplanningPostmodernprivatepublicpublic spacesequencesocial interactionsocial networksspaceurbanvirtualweaveweaving together

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
23 JANUARY 2006

Identity through shared practice and sharing stories of practice

"Such an approach is highly situated and highly improvisational. Reps [photocopy service technicians] respond to whatever the situation itself––both social and physical––throws at them, a process very similar to Levi–Strauss's (1966) concept of bricolage: the ability to 'make do with 'whatever is to hand'' (p. 17). What reps need for bricolage are not the partial, rigid models of the sort directive documentation provides, but help to build, ad hoc and collaboratively, robust models that do justice to particular difficulties in which they find themselves...

The second feature of social construction, as important but less evident than the first, is that in telling these stories an individual rep contributes to the construction and development of his or her own identity as a rep and reciprocally to the construction and development of the community of reps in which he or she works. Individually, in telling stories the rep is becoming a member. Orr notes, 'this construction of their identity as technicians occurs both in doing the work and in their stories, and their stories of themselves fixing machines show their world in what they consider the appropriate perspective' (Orr 1990b, 187). Simultaneously and interdependently, the reps are contributing to the construction and evolution of the community that they are joining––what we might call a 'community of interpretation,' for it is through the continual development of these communities that the shared means for interpreting complex activity get formed, transformed, and transmitted."

(John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid p.10)

[1] Levi–Strauss, C. (1966), p.17 The Savage Mind, Chicago: Chicago University Press.
[2] Orr, J. (1990b), p.187 'Sharing Knowledge, Celebrating Identity: War Stories and Community Memory in a Service Culture,' in D. S. Middleton and D. Edwards (Eds.), Collective Remembering: Memory in Society, Beverley Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

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