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Public space and free action: Foucault vs. Lefebvre

Author(s): Prodanović Srđan | Krstić Predrag

Journal: Sociologija
ISSN 0038-0318

Volume: 54;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 423;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: public space | free agent | everyday practice | Foucault | heterotopy | philosophical askesis | Lefebvre | dialectic | (neo)capitalism

In this paper we will try to offer a systematic insight into the relation of everyday practices and public space. By examining the work of two of the most influential authors in this field, Foucault and Lefebvre, we will try to provide a theoretical explanation of intuition that (public) space represents one of the key constitutive elements of free action. In the first part of the paper, we will consider Foucault’s notion of heterotopia in the interest of pointing towards a “spatially intermediated” self-reflection which, to a great degree, resembles the philosophical askesis form his so called letter work. Afterwards, we will consider in which sense Lefebvre’s position that public space represents a Hegelian concrete abstraction - which entails dialectical analysis and tracking of complex historical contradictions - complements and deepens perspective that Foucault puts before us in his heterotopias. In that vein, it will be shown that both authors, despite the difference in their theoretical starting points, defend the idea of such a public space in which all signifiers are removed in the interest of „opening space” for the free agent. [Projekat Ministarstva nauke Republike Srbije, br. 41004 i br. 43007]

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