Where’s the fun in infrastructure studies?

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While this edited book came out in 2003, I only just learned about it today. The Infrastructure of Play is a book about building tourist locations in cities or “tourist friendly cities”. The editor is Judd, who also co-edited the The Tourist City in 1999.

Increasingly, city tourism plays an important role in urban economics and thus downtown areas and, in particular, waterfronts have been transformed from purely (if that was ever true) commerce/business oriented operations into pedestrian friendly spaces for “hanging out” and places to “take in”. The authors, and this is a strained metaphor, look at what it takes to turn a city into a tourist Mecca (of sorts). In the earlier book, an interesting, but not entirely explored idea was hidden in there; a kernel, really, and it goes like this: 

As cities become places to play, the authors show, tourism recasts their spatial form. In some cities, separate spaces devoted to tourism and leisure are carved out. Other cities more readily absorb tourists into daily urban life, though even these cities undergo transformation of their character.

You see the tension!? As the city recasts its form, planners must balance changing the city system enough to attract tourists but not so much that that which attracts tourists to the city (especially historical elements/places) is/are marred. Still, the newer book is all about North American cities, so this tension (given that US citites are just not that old) cannot be fully developed (in my opinion).

In a final comment, another issue that struck me while review these titles: they were about people having fun … and upon a little refelction, why is it that so little research on infrastructure is about fun?

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About Nicholas

Associate Professor of Sociology, Environmental Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at Penn State, Nicholas mainly writes about understanding the scientific study of states and, thus, it is namely about state theory. Given his training in sociology and STS, he takes a decidedly STS-oriented approach to state theory and issues of governance.

One thought on “Where’s the fun in infrastructure studies?

  1. Pingback: Holy Crap: Infrastructure Jokes? | Installing (Social) Order

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