Sidewalk encounters: Card playing and neighborhood use in a lisbon suburb

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This chapter investigates sidewalk sociability and neighborhood use, by focusing on the regular encounter of a group of retired men to play cards on their neighborhood's main street. Direct and ethnographic observations were used on one Lisbon suburban working and lower middleclasses residential district. Sidewalk card-playing is understood as "focused gathering" (Goffman, 1971a) and this concept discloses the social organization of a public gaming held encounter and the specific rules created to regulate interactions between players and their audience. The sidewalk sociability effects produced by card-playing are interpreted as originating from "triangulation stimuli" (Lofland, 1998; Whyte, 2002) and "sociability pillar" construction (Charmés, 2006). Card-playing encounters are discussed in detail as a practical and symbolical neighborhood-use (Blokland, 2003) enacted by an elder-men peer-group. Research underscores the relationship between the elderly peer-group members' practices and the neighborhood's public space appropriation, their public characters' attributes (Jacobs, 1972) and behavior, and social construction of a sidewalk small social place. Among aged peer-group members, sidewalk card-playing accounts for an increase in social and psychological benefits, ranging from social contacts to memories self-expression, derived either from the gaming situation or from its pervasive sociability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-78
Number of pages26
JournalResearch In Urban Sociology
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Elder suburbanites
  • Goffman
  • Neighborhood use
  • Sociability
  • Urban ethnography


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