'User of what?' one tends to wonder
Reading (again) Lefebvre this week-end, I ran across this quote about the notion of "user" that I liked:
"Let us now turn our attention to the space of those who are referred to by means of such clumsy and pejorative labels as 'users' and 'inhabitants'. No well-defined terms with clear connotations have been found to designate these groups. Their marginalization by spatial practice thus extends even to language. The word 'user' (usager), for example, has something vague - and vaguely suspect - about it. 'User of what?' one tends to wonder. Clothes and cars are used (and wear out), just as houses are. But what is use value when set alongside exchange and its corollaries? As for 'inhabitants', the word designates everyone - and no one. (...) The user's space is lived - not represented (or conceived). When compared with the abstract space of the experts (architects, urbanists, planners), the space of the everyday activities of users is a concrete one, which is to say, subjective. As a space of 'subjects' rather than of calculations, as a representational space, it has an origin, and that origin is childhood, with its hardships, its achievements and its lacks."
Why do I blog this? I know that challenging the notion of "user" is now more and more common, but still it's relevant to see how thinkers such as Henri Lefebvre questionned it.