Rythms of the night, Spatiotemporal inequalities in the night-time economy

Tim Schwanen, Irana van Aalst, Jelle Brands, Tjerk Timan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    61 Citations (Scopus)


    The authors seek to extend the literature on inequalities and exclusion in the nighttime economy through a rhythmic analysis of visitor presence in public space in nightlife districts in the city centres of the Dutch cities of Groningen, Utrecht, and Rotterdam. Substantial inequalities in visitor presence, based on race/ethnicity and gender, are demonstrated. In the cities considered, racial/ethnic inequalities vary more in spatial terms, and gender inequalities fluctuate more heavily over the course of the night. Overall, however, the findings support the argument that exclusion from the nighttime economy needs to be understood in temporal—ecological terms. Multiple drivers, or pacemakers, of rhythmic inequalities rooted in race/ethnicity and gender are identified, including opening hours and revellers' collective habits. For advocates of greater diversity among nighttime-economy participants, the analysis suggests that neither a more varied supply of nightlife premises, nor more surveillance and policing, are straightforward solutions: a strong orientation of premises toward university students and urban professionals may promote gender-based inclusion, but deters nonwhite revellers, and more police on the street may empower women to move through a nightlife district unaccompanied yet reduce the inclination to do so among racial/ethnic minorities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2064-2085
    JournalEnvironment and Planning A
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Nighttime economy
    • Exclusion
    • Rhythm
    • Gender
    • Ethnicity
    • Netherlands


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