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Vol 21 No 9 Sept/Oct 2016

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Rights of Passage: Sidewalks and the Regulation of Public Flow

ISBN13: 9780415575614
Published: October 2010
Publisher: Routledge
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £85.00

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Rights of Passage: Sidewalks and the Regulation of Public Flow documents a powerful and under-researched form of urban governance that focuses on pedestrian flow. This logic, which Nicholas Blomley terms 'pedestrianism', values public space not in terms of its aesthetic merits, or its success in promoting public citizenship and democracy. Rather, the function of the sidewalk is understood to be the promotion and facilitation of pedestrian flow and circulation, predicated on the appropriate arrangement of people and objects. This remarkably pervasive yet overlooked logic shapes the ways in which public space is regulated, conceived of, and argued about. Rights of Passage: Sidewalks and the Regulation of Public Flow shows how the sidewalk is literally produced, encoded, rendered legible and operational with reference to a dense array of codes, diagrams, specifications, academic and professional networks, engineering rubrics, regulation and case law - all in the name of unfettered circulation.

Although a powerful form of governance, pedestrianism tends to be obscured by grander and more visible forms of urban regulation. The rationality at work here may appear commonplace; but, precisely because it is uncontroversial, pedestrianism is able to operate below the academic and political radar. Complicating the prevailing tendency to focus on the socially directive nature of public space regulation, Blomley reveals the particular ways in which pedestrianism deactivates rights-based claims to public space.

1. Pedestrianism: Pedestrianism and police
Pedestrianism, people and things
Pedestrianism and social justice
Overview of contents
2. Civic humanism and the sidewalk: The sidewalk as political space
The sidewalk as civic space
The sidewalk as walking space
3. Thinking like an engineer
Administrative pedestrianism
Pervasive pedestrianism
The taken for granted
4. Producing and policing the sidewalk: Sidewalk law
Obstruction and encroachments
Other sidewalk rationalities
5. The history of pedestrianismThe invention of the sidewalk
The reformist sidewalk
Administrative pedestrianism at work
The public sidewalk
The incomplete sidewalk
6. Judicial pedestrianism: Introduction
The public highway
7. Obstructions of justice?: Speech, protest and circulation
Sidewalks, the homeless, and judicial pedestrianism
Things and bodies
8. Taking a constitutional: Circulation, begging, and the mobile self: Introduction
Political pedestrianism
9. Hidden in plain view