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Reading the Dynamics of Contemporary Urban Spaces in a Turbulent Era: A Case from Beirut

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This article investigates the role of individual initiatives in reinstating urban spaces for encounter within urban contexts undergoing instability marked by weak states, and the predominance of real estate development. Particular to such contexts are inequalities in the use of urban spaces, and the homogenization of the users within specific urban locations thus hindering encounter and exchange. This research is based on a study of one farmers' market in Beirut, Lebanon, and emphasizes exchange over use value of urban spaces. It is framed within the social economy arising as a result of contextual circumstances, which affect and reflect the political, social, economic and cultural situation in Lebanon. This frame is applied to explore the extent to which such initiatives enable at least the symbolic inclusion of people within central urban spaces, encounter and interaction, and provide equal opportunities. This study covers two milestones: 2007 and 2016 in the market's history. It investigates how the relational approach to setting up such an activity defines it both temporally and spatially as a tool for potential social integration within Beirut. The study reveals how this market acts as a tool to sustain social networks within an unstable urban context.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2017

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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