Urbanization | VOL. 13, ISSUE 81, November-December 2013

Private cities: a rising phenomenon

The private city is slowly emerging across the global landscape as a new form of urban development. Advertisements for these cities appeal not only to the aesthetic value and functionality of the houses, but to the very idea of the city where urban spaces can be constructed and administered by private companies. The promotions display people walking down vast promenades from their luxurious villas or cosy cottages towards their glistening office spaces. These people do not seem to engage with the over-populated and over strained cities that a vast majority of urban dwellers in the global south, indeed the very people viewing the advertisement, are accustomed to. The aspirational advertisements ask the viewer to demand for more from life—qualitatively and economically. What the advertisements do not bring to light, however, is the political aspect of these cities and how a private governing body could distort the fabric of democracy and associated forms of citizenship within these cities.   What is a Private City? There is no one definition of a private city, nor is there one form of creating or governing private cities. The connection between various forms of private cities is the fact that they offer to build cities from scratch, substituting local governing bodies such as the municipality with a corporate form of governance. All private cities have emerged from a perceived vacuum...

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