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Chapter 8

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Sociology 2152A/B
William Marshall

Sociology 2152B Chapter 8 • The city is a tremendous concentration of buildings, images, and people that intensifies stimulation like no other form of human settlement • We learn to categorize the city’s element, paying attention to some things while ignoring others • We mentally “map” the city • The Physical Environment o We react to the city in 2 ways = 1) Physical Setting, 2) Social Environment o The Image of the City  Most people can offer a personal image of the city that is defined as the individual’s generalized mental picture of the city’s external physical world  Building an Image  We all develop images of the city in a similar fashion = 1) We make distinctions among the various physical parts of the city, 2) We organize these parts into personal meaningful ways  We are familiar with places where we always hang out (not the whole city)  Common Elements of Images  Kevin Lynch discovered that people built their urban images from 5 common elements:  1) Paths (streets, walkways)  2) Edges (boundaries between 2 areas = shores, walls, wide streets, breaks between buildings)  3) Districts (medium to large sections of the city)  4) Nodes (points of intense activity = train station terminal, usually where paths leads to)  5) Landmarks (physical reference points = buildings, signs, stores, domes, gas stations, hills)  Most people incorporate many of the same elements in their own image (what a path is = what a path is to other people as well)  Lynch found that some cities stimulate their residents to conceptualize more complex images that other cities do  Sprawling will confuse residents and lower their ability to conceptualize their cities  The “Imagability” of Cities  Cities differ markedly in terms of imagability  Imagability concept is important because  1) a clear urban image gives people a working knowledge and emotional security about their city (sets people at ease; knowing what is around the corner)  2) a comprehensive urban environment heightens the potential depth and intensify of human experience  Cognitive Mapping  Even people living in the same city construct different mental images of their surroundings  Legibility = people’s perception of the relationships among space, place, and the physical – even social – features of the natural and built environment in various parts of the city  Researchers discover people’s interpretation of features that are most familiar to them  Such differing cognitive mapping exists because one’s interests and personal experiences affects awareness and recollection of some city features and not others  As a result, mental maps:  1) Mix accurate details with distortion  2) Contain large gaps about unfamiliar sections  3) Not be fully representative of an area in its entirety  The Individuality of Mental Maps  Everyone images constantly evolve as urban experiences deepens or as the city changes  With time, most people succeed in comprehending the city and use it effectively  Multiple Urban Realities  There are many urban realities as many as the number of people living in a city = and all these active mental maps makes up the mental form of the entire city  Cultural and social class differences also affect what people include in their cognitive maps  Race plays a key part in how people understand the city as well  Researchers have found that black’s perception of community undesirability differs from those of whites = generally, blacks rate most communities as more desirable than whites do, favoring communities in which they are the numerical minority. While whites often rate mixed-rate communities as less desirable, particularly when there is a high portion of blacks  The city is thus a dynamic, creative, on-going mixture of perception and experiences o The Social Environment: Gesellschaft  Living in the city demands that we deal with more than just the physical environment, but the people who live in it as well  How do we cope with the city’s Gesellschaft = the vast number of people and characteristics anonymity?  The Pedestrian: Watching your Step  City life is an orderly routine, one that allows people to meet their personal needs while surrounded by the unknown mass of others  People are not robots just on the street, they are on the street for a reason (to work, to play, on the way home)  Pedestrians observe an intricate set of social rules: An unwritten traffic code exists for the sidewalk: for example:  Pedestrians watch their steps  1) Pedestrians in NA divide themselves into 2 opposing streams, with the dividing line somewhere in the middle  2) People keep themselves at least slightly aware of obstacles (mailboxes, lampposts, groups stopped on the sidewalk)  3) They casually note the speed of the people in front or behind them  4) To move faster/slower than other people, they move to the outside of the lane  5) People utilize various strategies to avoid collisions (coughing, or shifting packages) so that they can alert other people of their presence  6) People yell at each other for breaking these social rules  ***People trust other people to obey these invisible social rules***  Another example: Escalators: people go on the right side so people can pass them on the left side  Urban life is not as difficult as it seems: HAVE ORDER o A World of Strangers  People living in cities must also learn to deal with anonymity = a world of strangers  We look for visual cues in order to classify strangers in much the same way we make sense of the city’s physical environment  Appearance and Location  We identify strangers in terms of their appearance and their physical location within the city  Such tactics does not only apply to urban people  In big cities, our reliance on clues like appearance and location becomes really important  Using spatial location as a clue to people’s identities is a modern practice  In preindustrial era, public places had many uses; virtually anybody could be there, therefore can’t identify them using visual cues  Clothing were more important in the past than now because now, almost all people wear clothes that are casual  Location means more in modern Society  Privatizing Public Space  Another way we reduce the vastness and complexity of a city is to transform areas into private or semi-private space, usually result from unplanned, uncoordinated actions that end up spatially segregating certain types of people (e.g using a part of street as a hang out spot)  Outsiders entering such spaces soon pick up visual cues that they are on semi-private ground  On a larger scale, whole urban districts can become home territory to a specific group based on class, race, ethnicity, and age  In short, the city reveals many gemeinschaft (personal family ties) like sub societies  The City as Gesellschaft (impersonal ties): A Reassessment  Many early urban theorists feared that people cannot cope in a city that is huge and have lots of people  BUT WE CAN COPE o The Social Environment: Gemeinschaft  For most people, interpersonal bonds provide a basis for social and psychological security in the city  Urban Networks  Network Analysis = study of interpersonal ties  May or may not involve organized social groups  London Couples  The effects of social class on the urban experience (married couples)  Working Class partners had a strict division of labor, often spend their leisure time separately, and each maintained their own networks  Middle Class partners tasks were shared or interchangeable, and they typically spend leisure time together and participated in a shared network  Other studies show that strong urban networks form in stable neighborhoods, or around local schools through parenthood, or from a shared sense of group identity  Washington D.C, Street-Corner Man (Eli
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