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Place management through different lenses

Ntounis, Nikolaos-Foivos (2018) Place management through different lenses. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The main aim of this thesis is to tackle the lack of conceptual clarity that surrounds place management, and seeks to establish place management as an interdisciplinary boundary concept that combines a variety of conceptual lenses and allows for the problematisation of the field from different theoretical approaches. Throughout the thesis, the ‘social spatialisation’ of place management via the examination of emergent and deliberate practices that shape the strategic, economic, social and political use of places is suggested. Nuanced descriptions of place and space that stem from a plethora of geographic theories are combined with the adoption of ontologically and epistemologically diverse theoretical foundations, and suggest a turn towards an engaged, pluralistic theory of the place management concept. By adopting a multi-sited ethnographic approach, coupled with the extended case method, this study seeks to understand how place management practices construct both global and local understandings of places. Reflexive accounts of the place management process, as this was observed and studied in ten UK towns, and in the squatted areas Christiania and Metelkova, are presented in the form of structural tales, and led to the development of a reflexive account of the place management process in multiple locales. Based on the detailed analysis of both empirical studies, it is argued that a reflexive, hybrid approach towards place management allows for the development of more inclusive leadership models that gain more legitimacy and accountability. Furthermore, it is shown that place management is a deeply politicised process that signifies possibilities for alternative understandings of places from conditions of spontaneity, experimentation, and political engagement. Ultimately, it is argued that practices of collective knowledge exchange, place ownership, self-organisation and self-management, can prevent the vacillation, mundanity and annihilation of the soft spaces where place management is enacted. This reflexive deliberation opens up possibilities for dialogical understanding and consensus in place management, and fosters conditions for collective and co-creative capacities for place development.

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