The Subway as Territory: Between Public Space and Familiar Space

Issue: Station and Urbanity


Building on the results of fieldwork published elsewhere, this article theorises the limits of Isaac Joseph’s reading of the subway as public space. It reviews pragmatist sociological critiques of this notion and attempts to mobilise the geographical notion of territory in order to conceptualise the link between public space and familiar space. The aim of this move is threefold: to move away from subway planning that is based on a conception of a human-machine interface (which is, albeit unintentionally, a legacy of Joseph’s approach); to conceptualise territory as a form of attachment and not exclusively an appropriation of space; and finally, to offer a way of introducing space into our understanding of the “régimes d’engagement” (commitment regimes) developed by Laurent Thévenot.
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