The Centre and Periphery: The Role of City Embankments and Youth Practices


The article focuses on city embankments as social and spatial developments, which are an essential attribute of the city and an integral element in the lifestyle of citizens. As a contact point between the city and the water, embankments act as public spaces that exercise a wide range of functions. They also become points of attraction for various social groups, including young people. In the study conducted in autumn of 2021, we focused on the embankments of a large industrial city (Yekaterinburg, Russia). The “centre-periphery” vector was used as the basis for the typology of embankments, and the value young people attach to embankments has been determined. Using the methods of observation and interviews (n = 16), it was found that the leading functions of the central embankments in the views of city youth are communicative, aesthetic, integrative, leisure, including flânerie, cognitive, transit, self-awareness, security, and identity assertion. Peripheral embankments structure the city space, develop neighbourhood identity and support the function of spending free time. At the same time, undeveloped areas of the periphery are being marginalised and become dangerous. The article argues for the need to develop peripheral embankments through well-maintained footpaths, access to water, leisure and recreational infrastructure, creating comfortable living conditions for the “appropriation” of embankments and their social production through the actions and interactions of different groups of citizens, including young people.

Author Biographies

Natalya L. Antonova, Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia

Natalya L. Antonova, Dr. Sci. (Sociology), Professor, Department of Applied Sociology, Ural Federal University. Her research interests focus on the theory and methodology of sociological research, sociology of social changes, urban studies, study of the human body, modern educational technologies, and modern global processes. Natalya is the author of over 250 articles in the field of social studies. Her most recent research focus is social transformations of the urban space and social practices of the urban youth.

Anna D. Gurarii, Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia

Anna D. Gurarii, Cand. Sci. (Sociology), Associate Professor, Department of Applied Sociology, Ural Federal University. Her major interest centers around sociology of youth, sociology of education, sociology of social changes. Among her most recent focus of interest is digitalization of higher education.

How to Cite
Antonova, N., & Gurarii, A. (2022). The Centre and Periphery: The Role of City Embankments and Youth Practices. Changing Societies & Personalities, 6(2), 315–333. doi:10.15826/csp.2022.6.2.177