Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Urban Sociology

(Un)safety in public space

The projectseminar '(Un)safety in public space' is a research seminar for advanced MA students that seeks to help them develop their research skills through involvement in various stages of the research process. The main focus of the research project is on the remarkable absence of a strong correlation between objective measures of safety in urban neighbourhoods and subjective experiences of such safety. In other words, when crime statistics change, people’s experiences do not necessarily change accordingly. And while in community development it is often believed that knowing the neighbours helps the degree of safety, there is little evidence of a correlation between the localness of social networks and the overall safety of an area. In short, we come to our understandings of a safe residential neighbourhood through other processes and mechanisms, and the aim of this research project is to figure out what these may be. The empirical part of the project, conducted in Wedding, Berlin, is a continuation of a project conducted in the Netherlands (see – link to Dutch book). One of the aims of the survey- and interview-based projectseminar is to test to what extent the argument developed in the Dutch study holds up within the context of Berlin. Within this main framework, students develop their own research designs with related research questions, have access to the dataset collected and share their qualitative interviews and observations that they produce in addition to the survey. The projectseminar was awarded with the Preis für Gute Lehre 2011.