Power, Gender and Fear in Urban Spaces



Sonja Gaedicke

Research Associate


+49 241 80 90555



A Critical Analysis of Power Structures and the Social Construction of “Spaces of Fear” Exemplified by Selected Spaces in Berlin and Cologne


Originating from the mass harassments against women on New Year’s Eve 2015 at the Central Station in Cologne the public discourse about assaults in urban places has increased.

The debate about so called spaces of fear – not only concerning the Central Station in Cologne but on a national level – came to the fore of politics, media and science. For instance, the crime rates increased at the Kottbusser Tor in Berlin since the attacks in Cologne (Beikler 2016).

  Kottbusser Tor Copyright: © Sonja Gaedicke

In the pursued phd project the Central Station Forecourt in Cologne and the Kottbusser Tor in Berlin should be analyzed with regard to their social production as spaces of fear and their interwoven power structures. Who uses those spaces at which time? How are those places represented in the media? Who influences public discourse and thereby exercises power over those places and the behavior of the people which are using the places? What kind of people are avoiding the spaces? Can those places be described as public spaces when Habermas states that the public sphere has lost its publicness as soon as an assignable group is excluded from it (Habermas 1990)? Where begins the social construction of those places and is it linked to specific incidents? Are fear, feelings of insecurity and power used to justify an increase in expenses for police and surveillance?

Those questions should be analyzed by using qualitative research methods.



Beikler, Sabine (2016): Was Innensenator Henkel am Kotti erlebte, tagesspiegel.de, http://www.tagesspiegel.de/berlin/cdu-politiker-im-problemkiez-in-berlin-kreuzberg-was-innensenator-henkel-am-kotti-erlebte/13788378.html, Zugegriffen am 20.09.2016.2016.

Habermas, Jürgen (1990): Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft, Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin.