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By Deborah Stevenson

*What is precise approximately city life?*What key traits have formed the modern city?*How have the town and concrete cultures been defined by way of sociology and cultural studies?This is the 1st ebook to discover towns and concrete existence from the views of either sociology and cultural conception. via an interdisciplinary process and use of case fabric, the booklet demonstrates that the 'real' urban of physicality and fight and the 'imagined' urban of representations are entwined within the building of city cultures.Starting with a comparability of the agricultural and the city, the publication considers methods of imagining town and of conceptualising city cultures. It is going directly to examine the consequences of numerous pivotal city and cultural tendencies, comparable to using the humanities and native cultures in urban re-imaging, and the ways that modernism, postmodernism and globalisation have formed the outfitted atmosphere and the orientation of educational enquiry. additionally tested is the best way representations of the city panorama in movie, literature, artwork, and well known texts, have educated dominant rules in regards to the approach yes urban areas - together with urban centres, city waterfronts, and so-called 'global towns' - may still glance, functionality and 'feel'.Designed as a textual content for undergraduate classes in cultural reviews, sociology and wider social technological know-how, this ebook lines the advance of city environments from the 19th century to the current, and illuminates the character of city existence.

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While not an ethnography in the strict (anthropological) sense of the term, Young and Willmott conducted a survey of residents in the working-class East London suburb of Bethnal Green and a series of in-depth interviews over a two-year period; they found that people identified strongly with their neighbourhoods and had extremely close ties with their neighbours, many of whom where their relatives. Herbert Gans (1962a, 1962b) subsequently built on Wirth’s work to argue that urbanism could not be explained in terms of the differences between rural and urban environments but in terms of people’s social class, life cycle stage and social mobility.

In other words, an increase in number, spatiality and ‘the meaningful content of life’ has, in Simmel’s assessment, made it possible for individuals to experience a freedom of movement, association and ideas not otherwise possible. In this respect, his celebration of the urban is uncompromising: the citizen of the metropolis is ‘free’ in contrast with the trivialities and prejudices which bind the small town person. The mutual reserve and indifference, and the intellectual conditions of life in large social units are never more sharply appreciated in their significance for the independence of the individual than in the dense crowds of the metropolis.

The result is a society organized according to the principle of difference – and, in particular, coping with difference. Significantly, Simmel regards this city of difference as simultaneously the site of freedom and of isolation. In his view, both these contradictory conditions are deeply embedded in the social structures and circumstances of the modern metropolis. Thus, the factors which separate people from each other are, he argues, the very factors that make freedom possible. This analysis pivots on the identification of a number of key elements of urban culture, which require further elaboration before an appreciation of Simmel’s understanding of the link between freedom, modernity and the metropolis is possible.

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