Ruminating on locked out cities

A couple of weeks ago an article I wrote with Professor Andrew May on urban regulation and specifically the lockout laws appeared in The Conversation. It provoked a strong reaction across social media and also in private correspondence. Our critics accused us of being libertarians due to our questioning of regulation and indifferent to the public health of the community. Others have appreciated the historical perspective that we offered. We treated the lockout laws as a lens through which to consider some of the nuances of how regulation actually operates in cities, suggesting that it invariably impacts urban life—whether for better or worse. The broader point was that

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Lockout laws repeat centuries-old mistake of denying value of cities as messy places

This article was originally published on The Conversation on 7 June 2016. Read the original article. By Andrew J. May, University of Melbourne and James Lesh, University of Melbourne Sydney’s lockout laws, as well as current and proposed restrictions in other Australian cities including Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Newcastle, are perhaps more about regulating people’s behaviours in cities than about liquor licensing. Such knee-jerk responses to tidy up the mess of complex issues belie society’s need for diversity. They also neglect culture’s debt to the manifold possibilities of social behaviour in urban space. Viewed as part of a broader historical pattern, such episodes of

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