Reading Notes- Chapter 8: Social Psychology
Georg Simmel- “city is a tremendous concentration of buildings, images ad people that intensifies
stimulation like no other form of human settlements.”
The Physical Environment
- Reach to the city in 2 ways: 1) physical setting 2) social environment.
- Consider how people perceive physical surroundings and try to make sense.
The Image of the City
- Kevin Lynch interview urbanites in Boston, Jersey City, Los Angeles.
Showed a map representing several square miles of the central city and asked respondents to
Most could offer personal image of the city.
Lynch defined it as the individual’s “generalized mental picture of the external physical
- Most of respondents developed the image in a similar fashion. Their images emerged as part of a 2
way process: 1) Distinctions among the various physical parts of the city. 2) Organized these parts
in a personally meaningful way.
- People built the urban images from 5 common elements. 1) Paths, channels along which the
observer customarily… moves. 2) Edges, boundaries between 2 areas. 3) Districts, medium to
large sections of the city. 4) Nodes, points of intense activity. Often the places to which paths lead.
5) Landmarks, physical reference points.
- Most people incorporate same elements in their images. Also, some cities stimulate their residents
to conceptualize more complex images than other cities do.
- Imagability is important for 2 reasons. 1) A clear urban image gives people a working knowledge
of, and emotional security about their city. 2) A comprehensible urban environment “heightens the
potential depth and intensity of the human experience”. Let the inhabitants involve more in the life
of the city.
- People living in the same city construct different mental images of their surroundings. Their
perceptions features of the natural and built environment in various parts of the city constitute
- Mental maps as individualized constructs, 1) mix accurate details with distortions. 2) Contain large
gaps about unfamiliar sections. 3) Not fully representative of an area in its entirety.
- Everyone’s images constantly evolve as urban experiences deepen or as the city changes. No one
can recreate the complexity of the whole city.
- Cultural and social class differences also affect what people include in their cognitive maps. Race
affects how residents understand the city.
- City is a dynamic, creative, ongoing mixture of perceptions and experiences.
The Social Environment: Gesellschaft
- Deal with more than the physical environment
- Contend with large numbers of people, mostly strange people we don't know
The Pedestrian: Watching Your Step
- City life is an orderly routine. It allows people to meet their personal needs while surrounded by an
unknown mass of others.
- Pedestrian observe an intricate set of social rules. - Examples: 1) Rules of Pedestrian Traffic, vary from culture to culture. 2) Escalators 3) Subways
- Reveal the street behavior is not chaotic, as it might appear to be. Urban life is not difficult or
A World of Strangers
- Learn to deal with anonymity.
- Look for visual clues in order to classify strangers in the same way as we make sense of the city’s
- Identify strangers in terms of appearance and physical location within the city. Also let locations
speak for people.
- Using spatial location as a clue to people’s identities is a modern practice.
- In modern industrial societies, dress code is no longer the central clue. Industrial Revolution made
many types of dress much affordable. Raised up the living standard.
- Location means more. Recognize numerous distinct districts compose the modern cities.
- Lofland (1985: 118- 23), another way to reduce the vastness and complexity of a city is to
transform areas into private or semi- private space.
- Most residential neighborhoods have a dominant character based on class, race, ethnicity and age.
- Cities are impersonal, also “mosaics of small worlds”. Reveals many gemeinschaft- like
The City as Gesellschaft: A Reassessment
- Contend with physical size by creating personal mental image of the city. Deal with the
complexities of street life by observing codes of behavior and seeking out clues to the identity of
strangers. Own social characteristics place one within some part of the city and make urban life
The Social Environment: Gemeinschaft
- City abounds with personal relationships. Interpersonal bonds provide a basis for s