Chapter 7

January 20, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Psychology, Conformity
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The Urban World, J. John Palen

th 9


Chapter 7: Urban Culture and Lifestyles • Introduction • Social Psychology of Urban Life • Reevaluations of Urbanism and Social Disorganization • Characteristics of Urban Populations • Urban Lifestyles • A Final Note of Caution • Summary

Introduction • Move to the consideration of the city as a unique social organizational form and social milieu • Urbanism rather than urbanization • Understanding the influences of the beliefs and myths about city, suburban, and rural life

Social Psychology of Urban Life • Early Formulations – Tönnies’s description of the shift from gemeinschaft (a community where ties are based upon kinship) to gesellschaft (a society based on common economic, political, and other interests) – Karl Marx’s dichotomy between the urban and the rural – In all frameworks, the rural represents the past

• The Chicago School – Concerned with examining scientifically the changes produced by urbanization – Influenced by Georg Simmel’s earlier vision of the social-psychological consequences of city life

• “Urbanism as a Way of Life” – Louis Wirth argued that the city created a distinct way of life—called “urbanism”—that is reflected in how people dress and speak, what they believe about the social world, what they consider worth achieving, what they do for a living, where they live, with whom they associate, and why they interact with other people

Reevaluations of Urbanism and Social Disorganization • Determinist Theory – Wirthian social disorganization, which included decline of family and weakening of bonds, breakdown of primary groups, and decline of cultural homogeneity – Community Lost: urbanization is said to more or less automatically produce the characteristics of urbanism as a way of life

• Compositional Theory – Gans suggests that the city is composed of not just one urban way of life but rather a wide variety of lifestyles – The nature of the individual’s local community and primary groups are most important

• Subcultural Theory – Claude Fischer argues that space does matter, and there is something different about cities – Urbanization strengthens and intensifies subcultural groups – Being middle class in a small town is not the same as being middle class in a city – Size does matter

Characteristics of Urban Populations • Age – Urban population is younger than rural because they attract immigrants – Cities have more activities for young adults

• Gender – Less-developed countries have a higher proportion of urban males – Developed countries there is a higher likelihood that single women will leave rural areas for city jobs

• Race, Ethnicity, and Religion – Cities more heterogeneous than small towns – Raises the potential of intergroup cleavage, competition, and conflict • More likely when represented by socioeconomic status boundaries

• Socioeconomic Status – North American cities have been losing middleclass residents since World War II – Overall city income averages tend to hide sharp individual and neighborhood variations in socioeconomic status

Urban Lifestyles • Cosmopolites – Urban sophisticates, most often having incomes to match their lifestyles

• Unmarried or Childless – Overlap with the cosmopolites; younger and apartment dwellers – Brains have replaced money and accomplishment trumps religion and wealth

• Gay Households – Estimated to be some 8.8 million gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons in the United States – According to the U.S. census, gay male households are more likely to live in downtown gay neighborhoods, while lesbians more commonly reside in suburban areas

• Ethnic Villagers – Residents in neighborhoods dominated by a single ethnic group often called “urban villagers” or “urban provincials” – Often mislabeled as slums

• Neighborhood Characteristics – Territoriality: strong sense of territory – Ordered Segmentation: each ethnic group carefully and specifically defines its territory – Peer-Group Orientation: a group made up of members of the same age and sex who are at the same stage of the lifecycle – Family Norms: Family life in middle-class families is child-oriented, but in settled, ethnic, working-class areas family life is generally adult-oriented

– Housing: not primarily viewed as a status symbol – Imagery and Vulnerability: psychological distance from the city; they are “in” but not “of” the city • Vulnerable to change induced from the outside

• Deprived or Trapped – For the 15 to 20 percent of the population who are the bottom, the slum has the character more of an urban jungle than an urban village – Most of the residents of unstable slums are for all practical purposes excluded from the economic and social life of the larger society – Housing Problems

A Final Note of Caution • Urbanism as a way of life is remarkably diverse • There is no single urban lifestyle per se • It is important to distinguish between the different urban lifestyles

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