Sociability in Public Space: Case study research about the Thomas van Aquinostraat in Tilburg-West

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‘Sociability’ is about people’s intrinsic tendency to meet others (Simmel, 1949). The objective of this thesis is to research the feasibility of stimulating sociability in public space (in Tilburg/Thomas van Aquinostraat). The way people use public space, the ability of local government/other stakeholders to stimulate sociability, and experiences of public-space users concerning sociability played a major role in this research. By use of ‘mixed methods’, the research showed that sociability is not a ‘design-issue’, but more a ‘programming-issue’ at which activity/social programming can contribute to sociability in public space. However, it is difficult to create a spontaneous process like meeting since factors such as multiculturalism and individualization influence the outcome of sociability. Besides the fact that sociability is not easily achieved, the need for more social contacts with fellow citizens does not seem to be an issue for most citizens. Social interaction in outside public spaces is often limited to low-level interaction such as greetings or small talk. The ambition of the local government/other stakeholders to create social neighbourhoods seems to exceed the needs and experiences of citizens concerning sociability. This research shows that experiences from individuals can differ from ideas from local government/other stakeholders (Lefebvre, 1991).
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen