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Compare And Contrast Two Views Of How Social Order Is Produced In Public Spaces

1557 words - 7 pages

In this essay I will be defining social order, and looking at how it is produced in public spaces. I will begin by looking at two opposing views of social order by Goffman and Foucalt. Then I will examine Buchannan’s report and Monderman’s thesis, describing both views and their relation to Goffman and Foucault‘s, and then compare and contrast to find the similarities and differences.

Social order is the way that people imagine and practise their social existence. It is how individuals fit together in the world with other people and includes how they expect to interact. ‘Ordering is something intrinsic to social life and it is continuously practised.’ (Silva, 2009, p. 311) There are ...view middle of the document...

Michel Foucault views social order as being shaped and organised by authoritative knowledge. He focuses more on discourse to explore how knowledge and power have a bearing on shaping order. Authority to intervene in social order is granted to certain individuals - such as doctors, teachers, priests and policeman, and the authority is exercised through practices of law, punishment, education amongst others. Foucault’s concern is identifying who can claim authority over conduct and in whose interest. Foucalt contests the idea that the individual is a coherent being, self-aware and in control of themselves, and he regards historical processes as shaping the practices and power relations the define social order. Within his studies he examined the power to discipline human conduct, and different types of power (Silva, 2009, p. 321) There is sovereign power, where the ruling authorities of society (monarchy, state, political authority) have the power to punish wrongdoers visibly and publicly. This could be through public executions, torture or bruitilisation of certain targeted groups - dramatising the power an authority of rulers. Within European states this power gave way to other techniques based on expert knowledge and institutional arrangements, from schools to prisons. The increased surveillance encourages people to oversee themselves and regulate their conduct due to the assumed visibility to others. He views this as a disciplinary society, dominated by rationalist discourses used by professionals, based on professionalised knowledge and power connections and sees society as being characterised by coherence and order.

In 1961, Colin Buchanan, an engineer, was commissioned by the UK Government to start work on the report ‘Traffic in Towns’. This was due to a large growth in motor vehicle usage, and there were concerns about road congestion unless the increase in vehicles was matched by an increased supply of roads. The report aimed to produce a new design for urban space ensuring access for vehicles to a large number of buildings without lowering the standard of environment for life in towns. The key principle was to isolate the ‘rooms’ for working, shopping and leisure from the ‘corridors’ where traffic would be (Silva, 2009, p. 327). The restriction of car use in towns became the vision for ordering space, and the principle of segregation of cars and pedestrians came about. The templates for town planning that followed this encompassed cases from Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, that were built in the late 1950s when segregation ideas first emerged, to Milton Keynes in the early 1960s, joining together many small villages through a grid system. This did not work well everywhere, and some new housing schemes within older towns became physically isolated such as Hulme, Manchester and Castle Vale, Birmingham. Within the report traffic is viewed as a dangerous agent, and to contain the dangers it must be segregated, isolated an bounded by...

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