Lingering in Public: Interactive Practices of Spatial Production on Urban Squares in Zurich

Abstract

The focus of this research project lies on the social practices of lingering on public squares, which in Swiss cities has become increasingly important in recent years. I assume that the majority of interactions taking place hardly meets the current ideals: On public squares little verbal interaction between unknown persons occurs. Instead, a majority of the interactions is fleeting and barely conscious, such as eye movements, coordination of hearing and the physical positions of people to each other. Thus, not only focused interaction but mainly unfocused interaction (according to Goffman) is the center of interest.

The primary field of research is the newly built Sechseläutenplatz in Zurich, whose architectural design stands out as hardly structured space, that is, it leaves the users plenty of freedom of action. Data about the interactions is collected with video, sound and eye-tracking technology which is supplemented by GPS data. Thus, interactions can be understood and examined as communicative processes.

Data analysis focuses on detailed qualitative sequence analysis in consideration of methods of multimodal interaction analysis. Following this methods, further questions get sharpened such as the changing concepts of “being in public” (Öffentlichkeit).

PhD candidate

Antonia Steger

Supervision

Angelika Linke, Heiko Hausendorf

Funding

URPP Language and Space