Publicness

and Informality

The notion of informality is based on an implicit divide, created by an authority setting the normative tone and standing in opposition to anything that falls out of its realm, that is non conforming – informal. The legitimacy of a formal authority stems from different sources, for example: a) Planning law (unplanned/spontaneous/illegal land uses); b) Culture (cultural, moral and religious norms); c) Design (unexpected affordances of objects); d) State welfare (formal procedures for public service provision and entitlement). But this is basically an analytical distinction: publicness, as a practical notion, constantly challenges the formal/informal divide. Publicness is about becoming and change – creating inclusive spaces, sharing a common cause, a sense of belonging, safety and recognition whenever an issue perceived as a collective concern sparks a public into being. Publicness is a performance in socio-materiality, not a permanent condition.

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