Public Spaces, Private Control
Publisher: Dissident Voice
Date Written: 03/11/2018
Year Published: 2018
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX23067
A look at the commercialization of public spaces in Britain and elsewhere in the industrialized world, where gentrification and increasingly troubling privatization of public spaces goes largely unnoticed by a populace caught up in the day-to-day grind of living.
Within these suffocating corporate spaces behavior and access is controlled and landowners are empowered to deny the public the right to peacefully protest. This was evidenced in 2011 when the Occupy Movement set up camp in Paternoster Square (renamed Tahrir Square by protestors) outside the London Stock Exchange, only to be forcibly moved on by police who secured a high court injunction against public access. To the shock and confusion of many of us, it transpired that the Mitsubishi Estate Company, a massive Japanese property developer actually owned the public' square.
The sterile environment of POPS promotes a false image of contemporary living that marginalizes the disadvantaged and ignores the reality of poverty and social injustice, while being a fundamental part of a system that perpetuates both. In such sanitized spaces certain 'types' of people, buskers, skateboarders, cyclists - the undesirable - are unwelcome; homeless people are shunned, their existence denied, and 'hostile architecture' - benches with arms making lying down impossible, studded doorways, sloped window sills and anti-homeless spikes - aggressively reinforce the message of exclusion.