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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Spatial behaviour in Victory Square : the social geography of an inner-city park Hall, Wayne Robert


This report is the result of an empirical investigation of everyday life in Victory Square, Vancouver, British Columbia. Three months of intensive, scheduled observation and participant observation were planned in order to investigate the hypothesis that there was a regular and meaningful organization, both spatially and socially, to the use and control of park space. The exploration was guided theoretically and methodologically by the research of human spatial behaviour at other spatial scales, from the indoor built environment to the scale of urban communities. Both systematically retrieved demographic statistics and spatial habits of park users, and more subjective anecdotal accounts of people's perceptions and specific behavioural episodes were gathered. This provided a well rounded statistical and phenomenological data bank from which to generalize. An instrument for objective assessment and classification of park users as to life style affiliation, a systematic schedule of information retrieval, and a 'behavioural map' on which to record unobtrusively derived data were central to a research strategy that did not impinge upon the natural, real life setting. The park was found to host a number of socially marginal life style groups who, as powerless outcasts of wider affluent society, coexisted, as a separate social world, in social and spatial harmony. Through the behavioural processes of tolerance, non-involvement, and passive readjustment, a parochial moral order existed which was demonstrated in rituals of interaction and collective patterns of spatial dominance. This socio-spatial order accorded incompatible life style groups a means of peaceful coexistence in a place of limited space and resources. Spatial behaviour in micro-scale outdoor public space has not previously been intensively investigated. This exploration, as a case study of one such environment, supports the hypothesis that, at all levels of social encounter, and at all spatial scales, available space is organized, used and controlled in a regular, ordered, and meaningful way to accommodate and integrate the social gatherings it hosts.

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