This paper focuses on processes of attribution by others to young people as well as processes of self-attribution by the latter. It first examines the attribution by others by looking at Zurich’s youth-policy and its underlying conception of public space. In a second step, it zooms in on an urban square where a conflict of interests has to be solved within the framework of the civic policy, i.e. as a process of negotiation. It thereby examines the relation between the attribution by others to young people and the meaning attributed to the square.
The analysis reveals considerable differences regarding the perception of conflicts about the use of the square, the meaning attributed to it, the attributions to young people, as well as differences between scales (city vs. square). It is argued that a concept of a relational space helps to grasp the complexity of conflicts about the use of space, since it allows examining different perspectives simultaneously.