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Alternative Spaces/Transformative Places

Democratizing Unruliness in an Age of Austerity


Joshua D. Atkinson and Clayton Rosati

Alternative Spaces/Transformative Places addresses the rise of unruly spaces in society, as well as communicative strategies that citizens and activists may use to democratize them. With the widespread use of austerity measures by governments and cities, unruly spaces are an increasing fixture in our modern world. Cities such as Flint and Detroit in Michigan, Berlin in Germany, and even regions of rural America, have all been damaged by the neoliberal policies that have left cityscapes and physical environments altered and unrecognizable. We now understand that unruliness has become a constant in contemporary globalized society.

As such austerity has degraded infrastructure, depleted local economies, and poisoned neighborhoods, we feel citizens must be empowered to reclaim such unruly spaces themselves. The book explores different strategies for the democratization of such spaces in urban environments, and the potential and problems of each. Such strategies can create alternative perceptions and alter pathways through those spaces—even connect communities hidden from one another.

Students and scholars of urban communication and community activism, as well as human geography, will find the concepts and strategies explored in this book useful. The discussions related to austerity measures provide context for many contemporary neighborhoods and communities that have come to be neglected, while the chapters concerning unruly spaces provide explanations for the difficulty with such neglected or degraded environments. Finally, the illustration of different communicative strategies for the democratization of unruly spaces will demonstrate the possibilities for empowerment within communities that face such problems.

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8 Standpoint Performance Within the Intertext



Standpoint Performance Within the Intertext

Diffused intertextual production proves to be a valuable communicative strategy that allows for people to make sense of, and feel like they have control over, unruly spaces in society like hidden geographies. This communicative strategy stands as a political form of participatory engagement as it allows for people to engage in a focused collaboration within online environments, so as to build new knowledge about physical environments. Essentially, diffused intertextual production effectively helps people to build new knowledge about unruly spaces, and reconceptualize them as alternative spaces that feel safe—or at least manageable. In the case of Detroit, the addition of new information anchored to the intertext of “fabulous ruins” gave rise to a different knowledge of the city. The new knowledge from the intertext led people to see the spaces in and around the city as interesting or worthy of exploration, which stood in stark contrast to typical descriptions or narratives about Detroit. Those typical visions of the city were grounded in the logics of resentment and neoliberalism, which elicited emotions of fear, dread, or anger. What is more, the interactivity of the forums allowed for engagement and the capacity for co-construction of the new, alternative vision of the city, which proved was integral to the construction of participatory civic identity.

However, the research described in the previous chapter only provided insight concerning the construction of new knowledge, perceptions, and identity. Our understanding about the web community...

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