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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie

Eyes on the street

Eyes on the Street
Verantwortlich: Talja Blokland

How do we come to experience residential areas also when they have a negative reputation as being dangerous, as our home?  This project started with the assumption of Jane Jacobs in the Death and Life of the Great American Cities, that functional diversity, especially the presence of retail, would bring eyes on the street, and that people with yes on the street would bring about social control, increasing subjective feelings of safety.  While popular, the empirical evidence for this thesis is weak: the study therefore asks under which conditions eyes on the street become eyes for one another. The research has both a theoretical ambition to tease out how public familiarity (derived from Claude Fisher), trust (as discussed in the work of Sztompka) and experiences of safety and belonging are linked. It hence continues the line of argument on community and neighbourhood started in Urban Bonds. Empirically, the research project in Wedding, Berlin, conducted within the context of the Projectseminar, is a continuation and extension of the empirical study in Rotterdam (Funded by the Minstry of Housing and conducted at the OTB Institute for Urban and Housing Studies), the Netherlands and aims to strengthen our empirical understandings of the relevance of local institutions, from public schools to commercial venues, for the development of public familiarity and social trust in disadvantaged neighbourhoods of various types. The current case study in Wedding will be extended by further studies in Gropiusstadt and Marzahn.