Who Is a "Maladaptive Citizen"? the Czech Media Discourse on Groups-Associated Disorder in Public Space

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:05
Location: Seminar 52 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Pavel POSPECH, Masaryk university, Czech Republic
Who Is a "Maladaptive Citizen"? The Czech Media Discourse on Groups-Associated Disorder in Public Space

The paper focuses on the problem of incivility and disorder in the urban public space of the Czech Republic. Specifically, it studies disorderly conduct associated with specific groups, such as the homeless people and the Roma minority, and its framing in the national media. The paper builds on an extensive qualitative content analysis of the country's media coverage of disorder in public space from 1990 to the present. The analysis observes the changing notions of what constitutes a „disorderly conduct“ and the gradual establishment of the national discourse on incivility and disorder in public space. In this discourse, the term „maladaptivity“ (or „maladaptive citizen“) is identified as central, referring to specific groups who are portrayed as possessing characteristics which make their presence in public space undesirable. The data show that the term „maladaptive“, originally used as a placeholder for homelessness, has slowly become a common-knowledge term for the Roma minority. While in reality, there is very little overlap between these two groups, they are, through the notion of maladaptivity, ascribed similar traits and actions which are portrayed as damaging the peaceful co-existence on the urban street. The analysis is accompanied by a brief sketch of the development of the legal regulation of conduct in public space in the period in question.