Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Youth in Zurich’s Public Spaces: Hanging Out as an In/Exclusive Way of Taking Their Place in the City

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Abstract:  Based on the preliminary results of an ongoing research project focused on the social and cultural practices of young people in physical and virtual public spaces across four urban areas in Switzerland, this article explores the everyday spatial behavior of youth who hang out in Zurich’s public spaces. It highlights how everyday activities provide these young people with a means of coming to terms with the inclusive and exclusive potential of the urban public spaces they appropriate and how, in turn, they adopt spatial practices that can prove more or less inclusive. Some of these practices may be provocative or even subversive; and whereas others are more discreet (sometimes involving unconscious behavior or passing unnoticed), we argue that they are no less political. The subtle ways in which young people progressively take their place in the city could best be described as “micropolitical.”

Keywords:  adolescence; micropolitics; public spaces; socialization; urban cohabitation



© Annamaria Colombo, Claire Balleys, Marc Tadorian, Marianna Colella. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.