Encounter as a Resource for Social Cohesion and Community Resilience

Conference: The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (KAMC2021)
Title: Encounter as a Resource for Social Cohesion and Community Resilience
Stream: Architecture, Geography and Urban Studies
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Anne Allmrodt, University Bamberg, Germany


The pandemic situation demanded a new and challenging way of living: living under social distance. But although we were not allowed to interact with people in a common way, the support some people experienced since 2020 to create a ‘new‘ way of life under Corona is, however, not due to distance but closeness, cohesion and civil engagement. Consequently, those qualities need to be promoted if we are seeking for solidary and resilient communities. One strategy to do this is to strengthen and stimulate local encounter. Encounter - so my argument - has the potential to foster social capital through repetitive negotiation of meaning between people. From a geographical point of view, I will emphasize the importance of the spatial dimension of encountering. Using the theoretical approach of Spaces of Encounter, I will show results from a mixed-methods investigation, consisting of a survey and qualitative group interviews in rural East Germany. Data has been collected about people’s recognition concerning community building, spatial representation of encountering and encounter routines. Based on the results I will illustrate a requirement for more suitable spatial structures - especially in rural areas - to enhance encounter and civil engagement. Suitable in this context means to give people more possibilities to participate and to design their environment. Spatial implementations can help here to reanimate a sense of responsibility for each other and finally to create a higher level of community resilience.

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