Public Functions of Un-public Spaces: The Power of Commercial and Privately Owned Space in Shaping Social and Political Life

El Hayek, Chantal
January 2013
Spaces & Flows: An International Journal of Urban & Extra Urban ;2013, Vol. 3 Issue 1, p43
Academic Journal
Public life in the contemporary metropolis has become increasingly tied with the methods of consumption and privatization of space. This paper analyzes how the culture of privatization which, according to Simmel (1903), has influenced the alienation of the individual and the deterioration of public space, contributes today to the development of social and political life. Beirut and New York are examined as two models that have a history of opposing social priorities, as well as disparate ways of town planning, yet share many features that are characteristic of a culture of commercial public space. What constitutes the essence of contemporary public life in the two cities is the rather unplanned agreement for occupying and dominating 'un-public'/private spaces or 'un-designed' public spaces in which people interact freely.


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