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SO4029 Sociology of the City Urbanism 1 Classic Perspectives on City Life.

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Presentation on theme: "SO4029 Sociology of the City Urbanism 1 Classic Perspectives on City Life."— Presentation transcript:

1 SO4029 Sociology of the City Urbanism 1 Classic Perspectives on City Life

2 Community Participants in regular social interaction Shared social bond Shared identity Communal territory Strong emotional attachment to the group and space

3 Rural to Urban Key themes: Social Constraint v Freedom & Communal/Personal v Impersonal Relations. Töennies: Gemeinschaft/ Gesselschaft Durkheim: Mechanical/Organic Solidarity Sorokin & Zimmerman: Rural & Urban Worlds Redfield: Folk Society and Urban Society

4 Simmel: Metropolis & Mental Life (1903) Urban culture as the culture of modernity: Simmel draws general characteristics about urban life through studying micro-level behaviour Reason over emotion Dominance of the visual Calculation (Philosophy of Money) Reserve and the private self (individual freedom) The blasé demeanour/nervous stimulation The urban way of life spreads to the rural, collapsing the country/city distinction

5 Louis Wirth Urbanism as a Way of Life (1938) Member of Chicago School – greatly influenced by Simmel 3 Key Dimensions of Urban Way of Life: Size – greater chances for diversity – greater specialisation & division of labour = functional diversity – competition and formal control replace kinship as a means of organisation - provides conditions for social fragmentation and foundations for impersonal relationships - Density – intensifies effects of size –– blasé attitude (excessive nervous stimulation) - greater tolerance and greater social distance/stress – escape form density increases fringe development – density increases competition Heterogeneity – more tolerance between groups – breaks down ethnic and class barriers – compartmentalisation, anonymity and depersonalisation. Social Relations: Primary, Secondary & Tertiary

6 Negative Consequences of Urban Living: social disorganisation Isolation and instability may lead to social disorder Mental illness and suicide more likely Potential for Crime Loss of community/estrangement facilitates media and political manipulation Louis Wirth Urbanism as a Way of Life

7 Herbert Gans The Urban Villagers(1962) Critique of Wirths perspective 1) Isolation not necessarily a product of city life – ignores the fact that city life encompasses a broad range of social groups from the isolated to the relatively homogenous community, dependent on a range of factors 2) Overplays Urban/Rural distinction (urban villagers) 3) Not single urban culture but collectivity of sub-cultures

8 Gans Typology of City Dwellers Cosmopolites The Unmarried and the Childless Ethnic Villagers The Deprived The Trapped

9 Suburbanism Suburbanism as a counter to the Isolationist standpoint- quasiprimary area not anticipated by Wirth (Gans) Suburbia & Levittown The Lifestyle Enclave

10 The Suburban Way of Life Interpersonal and communal relationships - but of a limited nature The Mall/Shopping Centre as the locus of quasi- community The Lonely Crowd (Riesman) Tribal Conformity Little sub-cultural differentiation Suburban angst as the parallel of isolation

11 Robert Putnam Bowling Alone (2000) Social Capital: Information flows depend on social capital Norms of (generalised) reciprocity are dependent on social networks. Bonding networks - connect those who are similar. Bridging networks - that connect individuals who are diverse. Collective action depends upon social networks Collective action can also foster new networks. Broader identities and solidarity are encouraged by social networks that help translate an "I" mentality into a "we" mentality.

12 Bowling Alone (Contemporary decline in social capital -Mirrors similar process during Gilded Age of industrial revolution (USA)) Correlates of Social Capital: Political Participation Civic Engagement Religious Participation The Workplace

13 Causes of decline in social capital: Suburbanisation + factor 50s & 60s BUT – factor 80s onwards Mobility & Urban Sprawl Corporate De-localisation Privatisation & Segregation Edge Cities (Garreau, 1991) (Other Factors) - Time & Money Family Change - decline of traditional family Technology & Mass Media Generational Effects Against the Tide, Small Groups, Social Movements, The Net Bowling Alone

14 Consequences of decline in social capital: Lack of Trust Lack of Shared Fate, Empathy, Social Norms Social Capital & Emotional Well-Being Decline in Democracy Not all bad? The Dark Side of social capital – stifling conformity? – intolerance/discrimination? Bowling Alone

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