The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Photo of Elton Chan by Emma Lord.

Elton Chan

Doctoral student

Photo of Elton Chan by Emma Lord.

Public Space as Commodity: The Social Production of the Hong Kong Waterfront


  • Elton Chan

Summary, in English

While there has been a long tradition of public space related land speculation and development, the recent success of the High Line in New York has highlighted the transformative effect carefully designed and curated public spaces can have on the local economy. By prioritising exchange value over use value, governments and developers are exploiting the production of public spaces as a means for financial, political and other forms of returns. This paper argues that commodification of public space both transcends and encompasses other processes such as privatisation and commercialisation, and it is essential to study how it is manifested in different urban contexts. This paper sets out to examine how commodification of public space has taken form in Hong Kong, a global city where public spaces have always been an afterthought and box-checking exercise in the planning process. By reflecting on the social production of three recently completed waterfront public spaces across the city, this paper suggests that even though the commodification of public space has taken on very different forms in Hong Kong, the public spaces in question all have certain characteristics and features that can be attributed to the decline of publicness and inclusivity in public space.


  • Sociology

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Sociology

Conference name

13th AESOP Young Academics Conference 2019

Conference date

2019-04-02 - 2019-04-05

Conference place

Darmstadt, Germany