The Democratic Street

As our ontogeny transforms us into Homo sapiens Urbanus (Habitat, 2010) living in cities that are increasingly taking a form of homogeneous globalized entities of ‘smart’ compartmental enclaves/neighborhoods linked and served by transit tube mobility; and as we live indoors most of our time enveloped in a webbed virtual environment, urban citizens as well as professionals involved in the making and management of urbanism would naturally need to seek answers to such questions as: What will become of the idea of the polis itself? Where would the public goods be debated and decided? Where and how would the citizen live their public life, which must indeed be one of the most democratic rights of the urban citizen. The danger to democracy brought into play by the tendency of the social media savvy global citizen to live in a virtual bubble of homogeneity to ones liking and the need to bring dialogical diversity into the virtual street or neighborhood are already strongly felt. It has been observed that “democracy depends to a surprising extent on the availability of physical, public space, even in our allegedly digital world” (Parkinson, 2012). This paper looks at the development of democratic character of public spaces in traditional towns with a hypothesis that the use of street as a pedestrian activity space could be the most immediate and local solution that can revive and save the democratic spirit of both the human and the urban.

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