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Sadie Michael - Honors Thesis

"Public Spaces as Social Meeting Grounds: The Effects of Place and Built Form on Social Connectivity"

First Reader: Julie Beicken, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Second Reader: David Strong, Professor of Philosophy

Abstract

This project examines the ability of public spaces to encourage or discourage social use of that space, dependent upon design. Using Robert Putnam’s and other theorists’ contentions that the physical environment – especially in relation to the postmodern American West – has significantly affected social capital and social cohesion, appealing public spaces are understood as locales in which social connectivity is formed. In order to classify what constitutes an appealing space for social activity, place literature is employed and extended to the writings of Albert Borgmann. Thus, place bridges the gap between conceptions of our physical and social environment. These ideas culminate in a Parks Rx case study conducted through the Billings MT health and parks departments. Using guided audits and a survey, resident perception of two local parks as places and their subsequent ability to act as meeting grounds for social activity and community engagement are assessed.

Citation

Michael, Sadie.  “Public Spaces as Social Meeting Grounds: The Effects of Place and Built Form on Social Connectivity.”  Honors Senior Thesis, Rocky Mountain College, 2018

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