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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 culturalsettings 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.