Democracy and Public Space: The Physical Sites of Democratic Performance

Paperback | February 16, 2014

byJohn R. Parkinson

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In an online, interconnected world, democracy is increasingly made up of wikis and blogs, pokes and tweets. Citizens have become accidental journalists thanks to their handheld devices, politicians are increasingly working online, and the traditional sites of democracy - assemblies, publicgalleries, and plazas - are becoming less and less relevant with every new technology. And yet, this book argues, such views are leading us to confuse the medium with the message, focusing on electronic transmission when often what cyber citizens transmit is pictures and narratives of realdemocratic action in physical space. Democratic citizens are embodied, take up space, battle over access to physical resources, and perform democracy on physical stages at least as much as they engage with ideas in virtual space. Combining conceptual analysis with interviews and observation in capital cities on every continent, John Parkinson argues that democracy requires physical public space; that some kinds of space are better for performing some democratic roles than others; and that some of the most valuable kinds ofspace are under attack in developed democracies. He argues that accidental publics like shoppers and lunchtime crowds are increasingly valued over purposive, active publics, over citizens with a point to make or an argument to listen to. This can be seen not just in the way that traditional protestis regulated, but in the ways that ordinary city streets and parks are managed, even in the design of such quintessentially democratic spaces as legislative assemblies. The book offers an alternative vision for democratic public space, and evaluates 11 cities - from London to Tokyo - against thatideal.

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In an online, interconnected world, democracy is increasingly made up of wikis and blogs, pokes and tweets. Citizens have become accidental journalists thanks to their handheld devices, politicians are increasingly working online, and the traditional sites of democracy - assemblies, publicgalleries, and plazas - are becoming less and l...

John Parkinson's published work ranges across topics including legitimacy and deliberative democracy; public participation initiatives in the UK National Health Service; the evaluation of referendums as decision making tools; and British democratic institutions. He is Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of Warwick, ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.01 inPublished:February 16, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199676941

ISBN - 13:9780199676941

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Table of Contents

ContentsList of FiguresIllustrationsPreface1. IntroductionPart I: The Theory of Democratic Public Space2. Democratic Theory, Democratic Performance3. Theorizing Public Space4. Place and PoliticsPart II: Public Space and Democratic Performance5. Assemblies I: Performing Public Roles6. Assemblies II: The Public and Accessibility7. Protest and the Plaza: Engaging the Formal Public Sphere8. The City as Representative Space9. Conclusions and ImplicationsReferences

Editorial Reviews

"[Parkinson] has developed an innovative democratic theory of public space based on collective performance." --Marco Scalvini, London School of Economics