Studia Etnologiczne i Antropologiczne, T. 10 (2010), s. 87-99
The majority of aspects of the urban life concentrate in the public space, clearly separated from
private spaces. The nature of the public space consists in the fact that it constitutes a joint urban space
in the social sense, comprising different functions and meanings. It also constitutes the area where
basically all inhabitants can feel free. The public space is a space of identity which makes it possible
for the next generations of inhabitants to identify with the city. It makes the mutual communication
and expression of people easier. It is a stage on which the mystery play of human life is played every
day. In the public space, it is not only the past or the present that is coded, but also the new phenomena
reflecting deep transformations sometimes in the humanistic dimension of the urban space.
A traditional space is the centre of the city, the most significant element and basic form of which is
a centrally situated market — the market square — essential for the existence of both an individual and
given social groups. Currently, shopping malls and hypermarkets are more often becoming a substitute of the public
space. However, they are not a public space, but a private area only publically used. As long as the public
space is the sphere of freedom, it is the private space that usually undergoes numerous restrictions,
control and social selection. Shopping malls usurp the right to “be the centre”, are a simulation of “the
city in the city”. This way, they turn away a cultural code of the urban area — a traditional centre stops
to exist or is the one only by name whereas the outskirts become “the centre”. In other words — a social
life moves into the outskirts of the city.
Such a situation is observed in Mysłowice — the city which was the subject of observations and
inquiries. The opening of the Real hypermarket seven years ago has decreased the attractiveness of
the city centre, especially the square market, as a trade, service, recreational or even cultural space.
Real made, so to speak, an important reevaluation of an urban space of Mysłowice, decomposing its
functional and symbolic dimension and determining human relations and behaviours in a direct way.