Privilege and Participation: On the Democratic Implications and Social Contradictions of Bottom-Up Urbanisms

  • Gordon C. C. DouglasEmail author


This chapter complicates some common assumptions about the social value of bottom-up urbanism, arguing that, in practice, it is not always the democratizing force it is often heralded to be in progressive planning circles. The phenomenon ultimately embodies many of the contradictions of the neoliberal city. Drawing from a database of recent cases from across the United States, the author examines both wholly unauthorized or illegal interventions and those that are formally sanctioned but are nonetheless informal and participatory in implementation. The realities of who can and does take part in both types of streetscape intervention, and the types of spaces that typically result, reveal persistent social inequalities in urban space and participatory citizenship.


Creative placemaking DIY urbanism Tactical urbanism Guerrilla urbanism Generous urbanism Latino urbanism Ethnic urbanism Public space Vigilante Neoliberalism Creative class Gentrification Speed bumps Bike lanes Inequality Privilege Participation Democracy 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.San José State UniversitySan JoséUSA

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