Using empirical data from a case study of a square in a heterogeneous Rotterdam neighborhood, we address two contradictions in urban social engineering. The first is the aim to make neighborhoods more heterogeneous while fostering a sense of community. The second is making people feel more "at home" in public space by "re-conquering" it from specific groups who should be made to feel less at home. Our data show how people relate to other groups or categories of people on an everyday basis in public space. The square we studied is perceived as a specific territory where some people do not "belong," while others do. Ethnicity, being an established resident or a relative newcomer, and the mastering of relevant elements of the dominant culture-e.g. speaking the Dutch language-are important elements in feeling at home at the square. Our study reveals that there are limits to bridging social difference and thus making everybody feel at home in public space. This applies to both adults who conceive of difference in terms of hegemony, antagonism, and threat, and to children who are explicitly targeted by policies that we conceptualize as practices of "parenting the city.".

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Home Cultures
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Burgers, J., & Zuijderwijk, L. (2016). At home at the neighborhood square. Home Cultures, 13(2), 101–121. doi:10.1080/17406315.2016.1190582