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Spaces of Sociability

We view public spaces as central in responding to concerns about the ‘emerging asocial society’. Funded by SSHRC and Employment and Social Development Canada, this comprehensive report (downloadable below) synthesizes expert knowledge from 29 Canadian and international researchers on approaches to studying copresence in public spaces with a view to strengthening communal life in Canadian society. We synthesize knowledge on three themes:

(1) ambiguously public/transitional zones between private and public space.  
(2) public institutions (such as libraries and community centres) that enable and enhance sociable encounters, and
(3) social and physical elements of the public realm that facilitate sociable encounters. 

We focused on these specific physical spaces as ‘spaces of sociability’ that can be leveraged to inform public policy, practice and research agendas to develop and strengthen communal life in Canada. We are confident that the depth and range of our Canadian and international team’s expertise informing this report enhances policymakers’ and planners’ ability to tackle social isolation and social fragmentation by creating, supporting, and enhancing spaces of sociability.  

Many thanks to our Canadian and international collaborators and participants: Patricia Lopes Simoes Aelbrecht, Cardiff University, United Kingdom; Sofya Aptekar, City University of New York, USA; Nathalie Boucher, Organisme Respire, Canada; Nicole Dalmer, McMaster University, Canada; Michael DeLand, Gonzaga University, USA; Annick Germain, l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique, Canada; Troy Glover, University of Waterloo, Canada; Ajay Heble, University of Guelph, Canada; Emma Jackson, Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom; Laavanya Kathiravelu, Nanyang Technological University, Signapore; Margarethe Kusenbach, University of South Florida, USA; Karen Landman, University of Guelph, Canada; Alan Latham, University College London; United Kingdom; Camilla Lewis, University of Manchester, United Kingdom; George Lipsitz, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA; Laura McTighe, Florida State University, USA; Pavel Pospěch, Masaryk University, Czech Republic; Martha Radice, Dalhousie University, Canada; Hannu Ruonavaara, University of Turku, Finland; Quentin Stevens, RMIT University, Australia; Brendan Stewart, University of Guelph, Canada; David Trouille, James Madison University, USA; and Jonathan Wynn, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

The sociable cities research team acknowledges that we live and work on traditional, unceded, and/or treaty lands of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. We are hosted on the Dish with One Spoon territory, the treaty land and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, and Between the Lakes Purchase (Treaty 3). For thousands of years, this was the land of Attawandaron peoples, and eventually, the Anishnaabe, Haudenosaunee and Métis. Additionally, our team conducts research in the traditional territories of the Chippewa and Huron-Wendat, covered by Treaty 13 and the Williams Treaties. As we strive to strengthen our relationship with Indigenous peoples, we recognize that our work, which is centred on solidarity and place-based connection, has much to learn from Indigenous peoples of past, present and future. We express our deepest gratitude to the Indigenous peoples who share this land with us and from whom we continue to learn.