Theme: Blurring Public/Private

So here is a sneak preview of some of the abstracts for theme 1…

Nienke van Boom (NHTV University Breda, The Netherlands)

Exploring the role of leisure amenities in residential choice and satisfaction

This paper stems from the increased attention by scholars (c.f. Florida, 2002; Glaeser, 2011) and urban practitioners for leisure amenities as tools to lure human (creative) capital to place in order to compete for talent. Although the topic has been discussed in many disciplines, a deep analysis of what these leisure amenities are, how they work, for whom and why, is lacking. The study draws attention to the role of leisure amenities as contexts for meaningful social practices, and thereby contexts for socio-spatial attachment to occur. Following the work of Arai and Pedlar (2003), Collins (2004) and others, I argue for a perspective on leisure practices as social and focal or ritual practices, providing opportunities for social bonds to be built, maintained and strengthened.

In this paper I focus on the role of leisure amenities in the residential choice and residential satisfaction for different stages of life. By use of a panel survey among Dutch citizens, the paper explores the relative importance of leisure amenities in the choice of place of residency for different life stages. Furthermore it explores the contribution of proximity to leisure amenities in comparison with ‘classic’ amenities in the satisfaction of the residential environment for these different life stages.

The objective of this paper is to get more insight in the value of leisure amenities, and their potential as contexts for building socio-spatial attachment, for the perceived quality of the residential environment for different social groups. It serves as a first exploration of a more in-depth understanding of the role of leisure in human capital attraction. It is expected that especially in dense networked cities such as those in The Netherlands, leisure amenities might not have much power to distinguish one city from another.  The value of leisure spaces in relation to this battle for talent, might lie in the ability to foster social networks, resulting in a lower inclination to out-migration.  The paper ends with the question what these understandings imply for policy and planning.


Arai, S. & A. Pedlar (2003). Moving beyond individualism in leisure theory: a critical analysis of concepts of community and social engagement. Leisure Studies, 22:3, 185-202

Collins, R. (2004). Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Florida, R. (2002). The Rise of the Creative Class and how it’s transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life. New York: Basic Books.

Glaeser E. (2011). Triumph of the City. New York: The penguin press.

Paul Gilchrist (University of Brighton) and Guy Osborn (Westminster University)

Parkour and public space: understanding risk, benefits and social value

This paper examines the interrelationship between law and lifestyle sports, viewed through the lens of parkour. We argue that the literature relating to legal approaches to lifestyle sport is currently underdeveloped and seek to develop the literature to partially fill this lacuna. Hitherto, we argue, the law has been viewed as a largely negative presence, seen particularly in terms of the ways in which counter-cultural activities are policed and regulated, and where such activities are viewed as transgressive or undesirable.We argue that this is a somewhat unsophisticated take on how the law can operate, with law constructed as an outcome of constraints to behaviour (where the law authorises or prohibits), distinct from the legal contexts, environments and spaces in which these relationships occur. The distinctive settings in which lifestyle sports are practiced – in both public and private space – needs a more fine-grained analysis as they are settings which bear, and bring to life, laws and regulations that shape how space is to be experienced. We examine specifically the interrelationship between risk and benefit and how the law recognises issues of social utility or value, particularly within the context of sport and pastimes. We seek to move from user-centred constructions of law as an imposition, to a more nuanced position that looks at parkour at the intersections of law, space and culture, in order to reveal how law can be used to support counter-cultural claims to space.

Kate Themen (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Kicking Against Tradition: Women’s Football, Negotiating Friendships

This paper examines friendships and social networks in the context of amateur women’s football. Studies of intimacies and friendships tend to situate women’s single-sex friendships around emotional support (Spencer and Pahl, 2006; Allan, 2008). The aim of this research seeks to account for more depth in understanding diversity in female friendships. The traditionally masculine (football) environment is peculiarly distinctive because it contrasts with traditional spaces found in private, domestic context that have traditionally associated with the formation and negotiation of ‘feminine’ friendship identities. Utilising 10 narrative interviews, the paper examines social and friendship networks emerged in two main areas.  Firstly, although non-traditional social groupings were evident, it was apparent that some participants had to negotiate a dual private/public role.  Secondly, there were friendships based on sociability and these were integral to the connectedness of groups not defined by conventionally gendered roles defined by emotional ties, but instead on collective interest focussed around playing sport. These groupings are of interest because they are contrary to conventionality that frame emotional femininity, and foreground social activities that accentuate cultural complexities rather than confine friendship groups in terms of either masculine or feminine cultural practices. Drawing on the grounded experiences of female football players, we found that female friendships are much more layered and complex than represented in broader cultural discourse.


Allan G. (2008) Flexibility, friendship, and family, Personal Relationships, 15: 1–16.

Spencer L. and Pahl R. (2006) Rethinking Friendship: Hidden Solidarities Today. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


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