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Photo of Elton Chan by Emma Lord.

Elton Chan

Doctoral student

Photo of Elton Chan by Emma Lord.

Commodification of Public Space: The Case of Hong Kong


  • Elton Chan

Summary, in English

Much of the debates surrounding public space is currently centred on privatisation and how it has contributed to the erosion of publicness in public space. However, public ownership and management of public space does not necessarily guarantee its accessibility, inclusivity and publicness – highly curated and regulated public space that are publicly funded and operated can be just as restrictive and problematic. This is particularly evident in cities like Hong Kong, where public space often plays an important role in the state-led gentrification and regeneration that has become increasingly a commonplace across the urban centre. Drawing upon the social production of its public spaces, this paper suggests that commodification has become the predominant process that is shaping public space development in Hong Kong. By prioritising exchange value in public space practice and neglecting the needs of its users, the commodification of public space has led to the recent decline of public space in Hong Kong. This paper will conclude by looking back at the Umbrella Movement and how the Occupy protest site was an ideal example of an open and dynamic public space that can inspire future public space development in Hong Kong and abroad.


  • Sociology

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Sociology

Conference name

Lund Urban Creativity Conference 2019

Conference date

2019-05-15 - 2019-05-18

Conference place

Lund, Sweden