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As many western countries are increasing their legal regulation and surveillance of public spaces, this book offers new ways of thinking about and addressing urban inhabitation, by showing how particular understandings of the world become entrenched through physical and sensory experience. Combining empirical work, analyses of cultural representations, historical research, and legal analysis, this book considers the ways in which urban regulation extends beyond written law, as it becomes interwoven with broader cultural concepts, images and representations.
Taking the city of Melbourne, Australia, as a case study, the book looks at how the gridded structure of Melbourne’s city centre has, over time, been infiltrated with a network of small laneways. Beyond legal regulation, these overlooked and alternative public spaces offer a way of rethinking how we inhabit the city. More specifically, it is by attending to the embodied, sensory, experience of urban life that this book highlights the contingency of the city’s legal, political and social order. Denaturalising its established power and economic relations, it thus describes, not just the force, but also the fragility of the current regulatory processes through which urban subjectivity is conditioned.