Theorising Urban Playscapes

Theorising Urban Playscapes: Producing, Regulating and Consuming Youthful Nightlife City Spaces
Paul Chaterton and Robert Hollands
[Paper Žrst received, January 2001; in Ž nal form, May 2001]
Summary. This article develops a theoretical understanding of the relationship between young people and city space. More speciŽ caly, 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 theoreticaly and empiricaly explores three interrelated aspects of these playscapes: production and the increasing role of a smal number of large-scale corporate leisure and entertainment operators providing sanitised, ‘branded’ experi- ences; regulation in which the development of urban playscapes can be understood through a night-time entertainment regime based around a modiŽ ed relationship between state, developers and consumers, including enhanced forms of surveilance 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.

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