Synopses & Reviews
Why is public space disappearing? Why is this disappearance important to democratic politics and how has it become an international phenomenon? Public spaces are no longer democratic spaces, but instead centres of private commerce and consumption, and even surveillance and police control. "The Politics of Public Space" extends the focus of current work on public space to include a consideration of the transnational - in the sense of moving people and transformations in the nation or state - to expand our definition of the 'public' and public space. Ultimately, public spaces are one of the last democratic forums for public dissent in a civil society. Without these significant central public spaces, individuals cannot directly participate in conflict resolution. "The Politics of Public Space" assembles a superb list of contributors to explore the important political dimensions of public space as a place where conflicts over cultural and political objectives become concrete.
Public spaces are no longer democratic places where all people are embraced and tolerated, but instead centers of commerce and consumption. Increasing privatization through collaborative public/private partnerships between municipalities and local businesses has transformed such places as Bryant Park and Union Square in the center of New York City into environments maintained by video surveillance and police control. Even city squares and village greens are no longer places for public discussion and casual loitering, but instead have become filled with regulated Green Markets, military re-enactments, and seasonal country fairs.
The linkage between public space and the globalizing political economy deserves closer scrutiny because societal mobilization about public space influences the shape of civil society, and by extension, democratic participation. With the increased globalization of the public realm, the boundaries of communication and social practices are increasingly informed by multiple cultural settings creating new forms of public space. Studies of public spaces are rarely comparative much less global in their scope. This book expands this focus of work on public space to include a consideration of the transnational--in the sense of moving people and transformations in the nation/state--to expand our vision of what a public space is and how our notion of the public has changed.