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Space and society: the contradictory roles of public parks in São Paulo

Haddad, F.de-M.; (2010) Space and society: the contradictory roles of public parks in São Paulo. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

By exploring the usage of Ibirapuera and Carmo parks, the two largest and most attended municipal public parks in São Paulo, this thesis aims to discuss the role public parks play within socio-spatial constitution of urban public life. Furthermore, our investigation is concerned with the theoretical debate on the incorporation of the spatial problematic into critical social theory. The approach to the urban socio-spatial constitution involves the problem of spatial segregation in São Paulo. The areas where these municipal public parks are located relate directly to the city’s contradictory socio-spatial segregation: whereas Ibirapuera Park is located in the Southwest region, which concentrates the best public and private urban services, Carmo Park is to be found in the deprived and crowded East periphery. Theoretically and methodologically, the investigation is framed by the sociospatial dialectic proposed by Henry Lefebvre. The hypothesis is expressly related to the central theoretical problem of this socio-spatial dialectic: if space is simultaneously a product of urban social relations and an agent that conditions the nature of those relations, as suggested by the socio-spatial dialectic, then the public parks of São Paulo have a contradictory role within the city’s socio-spatial configuration that goes beyond the logic of socio-spatial segregation. Conclusions on the role public parks play within the socio-spatial constitution of São Paulo derive from an exploration of how the parks are used – which, in turn, involves an effort to apprehend the existing practices and representations of the parks’ users. These are analysed by looking into the socio-spatial context that helped to bring them about. A contextual localization of the roots of the current users’ practices and representations highlights the appearance of contradictory functions in the usage of each public park throughout the city’s history of urban constitution. The contrast between both parks within a comprehensive overview of São Paulo’s socio-spatial configuration provides the basis for analysing the contradictory roles that public parks play in the present-day constitution of São Paulo.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Space and society: the contradictory roles of public parks in São Paulo
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Development Planning Unit

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