The paper "How Private Interests Take over Public Space by Setha Low" is a delightful example of an article on sociology. In this article, the author Setha Low boldly confronts the issue of public spaces against the interests of gated communities. An exclusive wealthy few who live near public amenities such as lakes, oceans, and ponds want their property to be in a secluded area bereft of ‘ disturbance’ from other folks. While this is within their rights, they tend to overstretch this right and end up violating state laws and regulations.
The private gated communities exploit legal provisions such as reducing conservation to annex land meant for public use and in some cases use taxpayers' money to redevelop these spaces and then charge taxes on them and use the proceeds for their commercial interests. Public spaces have ceased to be places where all and sundry are embraced and have the right to utilize and turned into hubs of a growing consumptive and commercial culture. Local authorities and municipalities in collaboration with private entities, usually commercial in nature have ended up privatizing or controlling the use and access to public spaces using surveillance equipment and even police patrols.
While the aims may have been noble, the results are manipulation of existing laws to ‘ gate’ public spaces by elites who seek to control open spaces and their utilization by coercion and manipulation. Setha Low magnificently captures this trend of globalization and commercialization of public spaces. The author uses a wide range of sources and studies to illustrate what amounts to an annexation of public property. Although a few explanations tend to be repetitive and sometimes the argumentation does not flow particularly well, the author, nonetheless, keeps the readers’ attention focused and vividly educates on this topic.