The banning of hoodies in the Bluewater Shopping Centre at Kent and subsequent reactions from leaders illustrate two important points in support of Bannister et al’s argument. First, the incident illuminates the increasing conflation of commercial and public space. Secondly, the incident points toward the appearance of an underclass of non-consumers in the collective social imagination and the use of this grouping of individuals as the basis for both commercial and government regulation. Bluewater, a private shopping center, is not a traditional “public” space, insofar as it is not owned by the public. However, the extensive reaction of the press and civil society point to the fact that commercial spaces have effectively become public spaces. Whether because of lack of genuinely public alternatives or because of deliberate planning many spaces that appear public are in fact for private gain and regulated as such with support from the government. The British government response to the Bluewater incident displays the lack of a significant division between public and commercial space, as public officials support and enforce private bans, while private spaces are not held to the standard of healthy public space. The Kent police provided public enforcement for the private regulation by operationally supporting the ban on hoodies. Deputy Prime Minister Prescott, in charge of the government office promoting public respect, provided further public support for the ban and its enforcement. (BBC Article 12 May 2005).
However, more pernicious than the blurred lines between public and private may be the underlying tendency toward forcing the non-consuming class to stay out of either public/private spaces altogether. A major tendency of the new use of public space worldwide in the modern time has been the deliberate segregation and sequestration of particular people or groups (Davis 1992). This seems to be the case to a great extent at kent. With the coalition of commerce and public officials formed, the coalition has been able to paint a picture of the “enemy” – which generally seems to amount to the unrespectable underclass. The rhetoric of Prescott is particularly instructive here. He calls the hoodies and baseball caps part of an