Abstract: The everyday life of public space is characterised by many kinds of convivial, conflictual, and improvisational encounters between people of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Because public spaces are, in principle at least, freely accessible to all, they are of central importance to everyday life and intrinsically interesting to social scientists. This thematic issue brings together a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on everyday encounters in public space. In the introduction to this thematic issue, we appeal to urban scholars of all backgrounds to take the social life of public space seriously; as essential social infrastructure, public space is key to the collective well-being of city-dwellers, and it provides a crucial bridge between urban planning and the social sciences. Here, we briefly survey research on everyday encounters and introduce each of the contributions to the issue. While the articles in this issue are organised around the three core themes of conviviality, conflict, and improvisation, we argue for the entanglements of each within the everyday life of public spaces.
Keywords: conflict; conviviality; encounter; everyday life; improvisation; public space