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Transformative cities

The three urban commons

Ida Susser and Stéphane Tonnelat

Keywords: art; city; commons; public service; public space; social movement

Drawing on Lefebvre and others, this article considers contemporary urban social movements with a selective review of urban research and suggestions for future ethnographic, cultural, and sociological questions. Under a generalized post-Fordist regime of capital accumulation, cultural workers and laborers, service workers, and community activists have all participated in urban movements. We consider such collective action, generated in the crucible of urban life, as a reflection of three urban commons: labor, consumption, and public services; public space (including mass communications and the virtual); and art, including all forms of creative expression. We suggest that the three urban commons outlined here are not necessarily perceived everywhere, but as they momentarily come together in cities around the world, they give us a glimpse of a city built on the social needs of a population. That is the point when cities become transformative.

Affiliations

Susser, Ida - Hunter College, City University of New York

Tonnelat, Stéphane - CRH-LAVUE