Spaces of Sociability: Enhancing Co-presence and Communal Life in Canada

Thumbnail Image
Horgan, Mervyn
Liinamaa, Saara
MacLeod, Katie K.
McIlwraith, Thomas
Hunter, Devan
Wilson, Edith
Xu, Meng
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Digital technologies have transformed how we connect and socialize. Although virtual spaces command much of our attention, physical spaces remain essential to our everyday lives. This report synthesizes existing research on public spaces that potentiate, facilitate, and enhance relations between people beyond networks of primary relations, to better understand where sociability between strangers happens, where it does not, and how it may be enhanced. As central spaces of sociability, public spaces are an essential part of our social infrastructure.bAs spaces of sociability, public spaces improve quality of life by increasing opportunities for social contact, learning, leisure, play, and simply sharing space with strangers. Sociable public spaces facilitate interactions across social difference and create belonging; they can be both planned and flexible, and support a range of uses that respond to local needs and residents. The best sociable public spaces attend to historical, social, cultural, and community context; they include careful planning and programming and facilitate playfulness and improvised uses; they attend to basic human needs and foreground accessibility in multiple ways. To make public spaces better spaces of sociability, planners and policy makers need better more granular data on the social life of public spaces. Investments in public spaces as social infrastructure that supports diverse populations will counter social isolation, social fragmentation, and political polarization.

public space, social institution, ambiguously public spaces, public realm, canada, public policy, libraries, community centres, neighbouring, porches, POPS, social infrastructure, shopping malls, intergenerational, festivals, public art, benches, leisure