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14 September 2015

"We don’t have public spaces where immigrants and long-term residents can mix”

Shared spaces with

[English | 00:03:52]

The sociologist speaks of public spaces that presently interest him, namely long-neglected places that help immigrants to feel at home. His favourite public space is a square near where he lives in London.

Shared Spaces recorded this conversation with Richard Sennett in July 2015 when he visited the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona to take part in the debate “What is a Decent City? Between Pragmatism and Utopia”. He spoke with Ira Katznelson as part of the cycle titled “The Possible City”, which was jointly organised on 2 and 3 July 2015 with the Social Science Research Council of New York. Other speakers in the cycle were Teresa Caldeira, Diane Davis and Richard Burdett.

In this, his second Shared Spaces interview, Sennett talks about his present interests in the domain of public space, mentioning places where the immigrant population and long-term residents can interrelate. He believes that, currently, there are separate spaces for each of these groups but very few where they can mingle openly and naturally. He also holds that this is happening because, for thirty years, we have been neglecting the integration of immigrants from Muslim countries and present-day politicians are terrified by the problem.

Sennett says that his favourite public space is a square close to where he lives in London, Clerkenwell Square, in which different social realities coexist. These range from the premises of top fashion designers, lowly office workers, and a parish centre for blind children, and it is also a space known for protest and demonstrations. Defining it in a nutshell, Sennett says that it may not be the most beautiful square in London but, socially speaking, it is the most beautiful one.

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