Micropolitics of Public Space: On the Contested Limits of Citizenship as a Locational Practice


  • Andrés Di Masso


This article provides a social-psychological account of how public space dynamics may be consequential for the daily construction of citizenship. The article is organised around three interrelated ideas that are illustrated by a case study. First, it is argued that certain social-psychological processes that are typically involved in the construction of citizenship can be re-conceptualised as place-based processes that are located in public space. This interest in the ‘locational’ construction of citizenship implies focusing on membership, belonging, status, rights, entitlements and recognition as emplaced practices rather than as dislocated entities. The second idea relates to the troubled nature of citizenship as a place-related psychological category whose boundaries are hotly contested whenever disputes about controversial behaviour in public spaces surface. Accordingly, ‘the citizen’ is constantly re-shaped as everyday place-discourses and territorial practices in the public domain unfold in problematic ways. Finally, it is argued that such ‘locational’ constructions and enactments of citizenship in public space are usually framed by broader ideological dilemmas that are relevant to the maintenance and change of a given socio-political order. The ultimate purpose of the article is to demonstrate the potential for public space to become a possible site for grounding a social psychology of citizenship.