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Spaces of secular faith? Shared assets and intangible values in diverse, changing communities

McClymont, Katie


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Katie McClymont
Associate Professor in Urban Planning


In the current political climate, questions of shared identities, inclusive communities and public spaces are of utmost urgency. Compounded by the context of austerity, the value and purpose of public spaces is under question. This paper argues that the established boundaries and categories limit the ability to bring about progressive change in this situation. Urban planning categorises “places of worship” as tangible and discrete entities. The broader, more societal value of spaces such as churches remains unsaid and ill-defined, as does the intangible, spiritual value of public and community spaces. The paper presents four diverse spaces within Bristol, UK.
It explores how their current and potential future use both challenge and are challenged by the context of postsecularism, austerity and community divisions. By conceptualising them as implicit sacred spaces which can transgress established boundaries—of both planning policy and categorical religiosity—the paper questions the meaning, possibilities and problems of “municipal spirituality.”

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 7, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 5, 2019
Publication Date Feb 5, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 14, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 6, 2021
Journal Implicit Religion
Print ISSN 1463-9955
Electronic ISSN 1743-1697
Publisher Equinox Publishing
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 2
Pages 142-164
Keywords urban planning, community, postsecular, austerity, public space
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the author's accepted manuscript. The final published version is available here:
Contract Date Jan 14, 2019


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