Squatted Social Centres Part 2 (of three or four)

Its unofficial nature is likely to impress on people a sense of ‘unofficialness’, and in a well-run Squatted Social Centre (SSC) this can manifest in any number of extremely useful ways, from innovations in provision for the site itself, to increased creativity and the politicisation of people for whom even entering the space represents a break with commercial and official restrictions on culture and expression.

As a self-proclaimed radical space, it provides an ideal environment, in theory, for further education and radicalisation of the local population which engages with it, providing a potential propaganda centre in the same way as the church used to use its position as the main provider of free space and aid to push its rather less useful messages in years gone by.

While the church role in harvest festivals and ‘alms for the poor’ has receded, as old social contracts broke down and urbanites in particular turned to new providers, SSCs with their open doors as unofficial musical venues, housing film nights, art exhibitions, and even as safe houses for those that need them, can hold that open ground and utilise it to good effect – particularly in the cities. In an ideal situation, SSCs have massive potential as centres of local resistance, both cultural and political, for the duration of their existence.

But duration, and a precarious position, while forming some major advantages for an SSC, also form the basis of some of the biggest weaknesses of the concept. More on this in part 3.

Posted By

Rob Ray
Jan 29 2007 13:53

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