A Study on the Role of Third Places in Zanjan's Social Life in the Period between Constitutional Revolution and Islamic Revolution, Case Study: Sabzeh Meydan District of Zanjan-Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor , Faculty of Art & Architecture Department of Urban Planning and Design, Azad University Central Branch, Tehran, IRAN

2 azad university central branch


Extended Abstract:
Introduction: Iran has taken lots of changes during the last century. Occurrence of two revolutions -constitutional revolution and Islamic revolution - and then a war for eight years has been the source of changes in the urban space and social life in this country. One of these changes is about the third places.
Third places as one of the most important institutions of public sphere are attractive public places which shaping the informal life of the citizens and repair their social relationships out of formal working and family life. So, the third places stand in contrast to the formal life at homes and workplaces and have witnessed various transitions during the past decades. These places are a vital element in public realm of the cities which at different levels, from city level to neighborhood unit’s level are able to redefine the social structures and promote the concept of social interactions from shallow and ephemeral interactions and relationships to stronger social bonds. These places are acceptor of different types of connections, interactions and activities and gather people together regardless of the social degrees, classes, ethnic, racial, and etc. (Oldenburg, 1999,1) Therefore, have a significant impact on the social life. A Third Place is a place where people can visit regularly and get in touch with friends, neighbors, colleagues and even strangers (Mehta & K. Bosson, 2010,780).
These days, urban life has been dominated by two domains: family & government. Zanjan which has been an important city due to its location between Tehran and Tabriz on one hand and the big influence of religious leaders on public opinion in this city on the other hand, has always been affected by evolutions and tensions created at national level and have affected them (Soltani, 1379). Therefore, in mentioned section of time, by identifying third places at different periods in the past hundred years, in Sabze-Meydan space, we attempt to consider their impact on public and social life of Zanjan citizens and examine the historical developments of these places.
It should be noted that Research on new concepts such as "third places" in Iran, faces many challenges since Professor Ray Oldenburg, as the one who has introduced this concept for the first time, has almost focused all his studies on American cities and in a few cases, has pointed to European cities. Hence, reviewing of such a concept in the Iranian cities which have significant differences with Western countries in regard to the social - political context and flow of life in cities requires understanding of the context and then redefining the concept of third places and their characteristics according to local conditions.
Methodology: By applying the qualitative methods, the paper based on its goals first studies the changes in third places and somehow their formation and trasformation in Zanjan and mainly introduces them through a Descriptive Approach by extracting codes of third places and using Content Analysis Method. Afterwards, the roles of third places in promoting social life are considered and compared through the use of codes on these places and also application of Analytical Matrix.

Results and discussion: Over the past hundred years, various third places have always shaped in Sabze-Meydan district. The form and function of some of them have basically changed, some others are eliminated and some have maintained their form and function. To conduct this research, at first the available historical documents have been examined, and then, through surveys and field studies, the process of transition of form and function of these places and the changes pertaining to the social interactions resulted from that places have been studied.
The Great Mosque, from the beginning of its establishment has maintained its function during the last hundred years and has always been a place for informal and voluntary gatherings of the people and has been visited by different social groups with different intentions. Sometimes its minarets have become a watchtower for the Tudeh Party members in the event of conflict between supporters and opponents of the Tudeh Party in 1325, and another time, its yard has converted into Basij resistance base.Although, Its pulpit has always been a place for religious leaders’ speeches and its space has been a place for meeting, discussing and exchanging of people’s opinion. Therefore, it can be noted with confidence that until recent years, this place has been the most fundamental and important part of the city’s public sphere and the most influential place for dissemination of common sense.
Following the Great Mosque, Sabze-Meydan space itself ranks second among the important third-places which similar to the Mosque has roughly retained its form and function and has had remarkable impact on the social lives and defiantly public opinion.
Except for the Mosque and Sabze-Meydan, almost all third-places which existed in this district are not exist anymore. Teahouses, delis and peddlers who were selling ice creams are no more there. Nowadays, retail shops have surrounded this district and other public gathering places cannot be found except for the two pre-mentioned cases.
Conclusion: Although the district's third places were not devoid of social damages (like gender segregations), but its positive social impacts were undeniable. It seems that the attention authorities to such places and their attempt to recreate these places and yet control the social damages can be a guarantee of the increase in positive social interactions of the citizens, expansion of spaces for talks and exchange of ideas and consequently, development of public sphere. This research's results show that third places always have had a remarkable role in people's social life and an enormous influence on the mobility of their informal life in Zanjan. But this role, recently has been weakened because of different reasons and now these places require urban planners and designers' special attention to recover and regain those positions.


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تکمیل همایون، ناصر 1379: تاریخ اجتماعی و فرهنگی تهران، جلد الف از آغاز تا دارالخلافه ناصری (تهران: دفتر پژوهش‌های فرهنگی)

آزاد ارمکی, تقی 1384: پاتوق و مدرنیته ایرانی (تهران: لوح فکر)

سلطانی, رامین 1379: تاریخ زنجان (زنجان: نیکان)

گیدنز، آنتونی 1376: جامعه‌شناسی. ترجمه منوچهر صبوری؛ تهران: نشر نی.

1.       ارنت، هانا 1390:  وضع بشری، ترجمه مسعود علیا؛ تهران: ققنوس

Volume 49, Issue 3
October 2017
Pages 553-570
  • Receive Date: 09 May 2014
  • Revise Date: 27 February 2015
  • Accept Date: 04 March 2016
  • First Publish Date: 23 September 2017