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Theorising urban playscapes: Producing, regulating and consuming youthful nightlife city spaces

Lookup NU author(s): Paul Chatterton, Professor Robert Hollands


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This article develops a theoretical understanding of the relationship between young people and city space. More specifically, our focus concerns what we have termed 'urban playscapes'-young people's activities in bars, pubs, night-clubs and music venues within the night-time entertainment economy. The paper theoretically and empirically explores three interrelated aspects of these playscapes: production and the increasing role of a small number of large-scale corporate leisure and entertainment operators providing sanitised, 'branded' experiences; regulation in which the development of urban playscapes can be understood through a night-time entertainment regime based around a modified relationship between state, developers and consumers, including enhanced forms of surveillance and control; and consumption which is characterised by segmentation and differentiation and based around more 'exclusive' and 'up-market' identities. We argue that these three aspects combine to create a dominant mode of 'mainstream' urban nightlife, with 'alternative' and 'residual' nightlife increasingly under threat or squeezed out. In conclusion, we discuss some of the interrelationships between production, regulation and consumption and suggest a number of potential future scenarios for nightlife development.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chatterton P, Hollands RG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Urban Studies

Year: 2002

Volume: 39

Issue: 1

Pages: 95-116

Print publication date: 01/01/2002

ISSN (print): 0042-0980

ISSN (electronic): 1360-063X


DOI: 10.1080/00420980220099096


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