Negotiating Public Space

While my parents have had much experience with the “norms” in New York, I’ve lived in the suburbs of New Jersey my entire life, and I’m certainly not used to the way things work around here. I’ve always been passive and introverted, but living in New York has dumped me into a brand new, fast-paced world. I see new, strange people every time I step off campus (sometimes even when I’m still on campus), but it seems like I’m the only one with this much curiosity.

For this assignment, I went to Manhattan with a friend of mine, where we sat at a nearby coffee shop and watched the people pass by from the window. From most of the people I’ve noticed, there was an extreme lack of awareness to their surroundings. I couldn’t even count how many times people bumped into each other because they were too busy looking down at their smart phones. It’s as if people are constantly wearing blinders; everyone has their own agenda and they won’t allow for much variation in their routines.

One of the especially interesting things my friend and I observed was how people carried themselves. Since we’re both involved in the theatre, we found it easy to pick up on other people’s body language, or more particularly, how people “lead”. This concept is fairly easy to see, but hard to explain… but I’ll try anyway! Every person tends to walk differently. When you get up and first begin walking, you may notice that you don’t always make the first motion with your feet. Some people lead with their hands, or their shoulders, or even their heads! Even more fascinating than that, we also noticed a connection between how people dressed (and we admittedly made assumptions about social status based on this), and which body parts they led with. If you would like more information about this concept, this blog post is very informative!


One response to “Negotiating Public Space

  1. “Body carriage,” isn’t that what they call it? Indeed, this is another fascinating lens through which to view how people negotiate public space.

    Interesting link. Thanks, D!

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