SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes -Georg Simmel
The Metropolis and Mental Life
Georg Simmel: One of the most significant classical works on the expected
effects of urban life on individual social psychology and definition of self.
The Key Question: how did the human personality adapt and change to
accommodate the new environment represented by the industrial city?
* Metropolitan type of individual: Individuality, rationality, lack of emotionalism,
specialization and compartmentalization 区分.
* Reasons: Money economy, division of labour, size of the area and the
number of persons and so on.
* Demonstration methods: compare Metropolis with small town.
* The psychological basis of the metropolitan type of individuality consists in
the intensification of nervous stimulation.
* With each crossing the street, with the tempo and multiplicity of economic,
occupational and social life, the city sets up a deep contrast with small town
and rural life with reference to the sensory foundation of psychic life.
* So the urban emphasis on rationality and money to deal with stress and
* It is said that the relationship between rationalism and money economy is
closely. They are both colorless and indifference, and one pursues interest,
and other requires people to be calculating, so the metropolitan are of
characteristics of punctuality, calculability, exactness, but on the other hand,
those overwhelm the individual and personality.
* When rationalism and money economy overwhelm personalosty, they also
develop their personality at the same time. It can be divided in to three parts.
1) Blase attitude
3) a kind and an amount of personal freedom.
* This part is about the development of emotional and rational personality, and
the contest between “subject culture” and “object culture”. As Simmel said,
the character of metropolitan life is rational rather than emotional. And here
are two reasons.
1) Under the guidance of the material culture, Mental factors are crystallized.
Humanity can be performed by material and individual behaviors.
2) Division of labour --> humanity incomplete.
Simmel: “In our fleeting 短暂的 existence, as a cell, belong only as a part, it is
not our task either t accuse or pardon, but only to understand.”