URBAN DESIGN International

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 280–295 | Cite as

Eating outdoors: an inscription–prescription analysis of user behaviour in public spaces

  • Jihyun KimEmail author
Original Article


This paper examines how public spaces deal with users’ demand for eating food under the framework of inscription–prescription (Akrich, in: Law and Bijker (eds) Shaping Technology/Building Society: studies in socio-technical change, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1992), which is based on actor-network theory (ANT). This concept approaches to a physical setting of space working for eating activity, and reveals the social–material interactions in public space. The empirical research was conducted in two small public spaces in London—Fortune Street Park and Kingston Ancient Market. This research reveals (1) the detailed inscription (materialisation) process from the social interests connected with eating to the physical objects in public space; (2) the different relational dynamics between various actors in the prescription for eating; and (3) how the eating prescriptions in each case respond to the other activities. These findings demonstrate the effectiveness of the prescription framework as an empirical tool for exploring diverse public space issues.


Public space Inscription Prescription Actor-network theory User behaviour Affordance 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bartlett School of PlanningUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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