Hostility to cities: The destruction of New York New York has been depicted as being destroyed by: • Earthquake • Fire • Flood • Meteor • Comet • Martians • Glaciers • Ghosts • Atom bombs • Class warfare • Terrorism • Invasion • Apes, wolves, dinosaurs • Disease • Warfare Page, Max (2008). The city’s end: Two centuries of fantasies, fears, • Nuclear fallout and premonitions of New York’s destruction. New Haven: Yale • Environmental degradation (p.4) University Press. Why the interest in the destruction of New York City? As historically, the largest and most important American city financially, culturally, and politically, NYC has an international significance. These destruction fantasies may be fueled or motivated by: • Ambivalence toward cities • Hostility to immigrants/racial diversity • Fear of technology’s impact • Apocalyptic strain in American religious life • A variety of social, economic, political and physical transformations • Jealousy, envy, resentment? Alienation: A Major Theme in 19th Century Sociology • Emile Durkheim’s theory of alienation: Suicide as stemming from either too much integration or too little integration with society as well as anomie (normlessness) due to rapid societal change. • Karl Marx wrote that worker’s had no control over their work and lives and experienced alienation from other workers and the means of production. Georg Simmel (1858-1918) • An influential German sociologist and philosopher often cited for his writing on the psychological effects of city living • “The Metropolis and Mental Life” (1903) was a very influential paper adopted and updated by Milgram Milgram’s Cognitive Overload Model: Reactions to Overload • Represents an updating of Simmel’s explanation of the difference between rural and urban life • Long standing interest in differentiating the city from the countryside Ferdinand Toënnies (1855-1936) • Ferdinand Toënnies described a difference between Gemeinschaft (community)and Gesellschaft (society) Milgram’s Cognitive Overload Model: Reactions to Overload • Allocate less time to each input (brusque manner) • Disregard low priority inputs • Redrawn boundaries in social transactions—shift overload to others • Receptor is blocked prior to entrance into system (unlisted telephone numbers) • Filtering devices diminish intensity of inputs (answering machines) • Creation of special institutions to absorb inputs/shield the individual Lofland’s Privacy Model: Symbolic Transformations Source: Lofland, L. H. (1973). A world of strangers: Order and action in urban public space. New York: Basic Books • Rules for urban behaviour: – – – – – – Minimize expressivity Minimize body contact, keep to the right Sit away from others Minimize eye contact with strangers When in doubt, flee Disattend, pretend not to notice deviants Urbanism • Jane Jacobs (19162006) described “eyes on the street” as a crime prevention strategy • Security came from shopkeepers, pedestrians, and residents of a streetoriented community Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) McLuhan made a distinction between North American and Mediterranean cultures’ use of space related to privacy and community. This cultural difference could explain the Kitty Genovese incident. Marshall McLuhan’s Explanation for the Kitty Genovese Incident • Kitty Genovese was murdered while 38 witnesses failed to intervene • McLuhan’s explanation was different from the diffusion of responsibility model of social psychology: cultural differences in the perception and use of space Marshall McLuhan Kitty Genovese Marshall McLuhan’s Explanation for the Kitty Genovese Incident • In North America, people go outside for privacy and inside when they seek community—to socialize with others • In Mediterranean cultures, the reverse is true: people go outside when they seek community and go inside when they seek privacy Marshall McLuhan’s Explanation for the Kitty Genovese Incident Paris, France Lucca, Italy • Sidewalk cafes are an example of people going outdoors to be with people. • Mediterranean cultures take possession of the street • North Americans don’t view the street as their territory—public places become a “no-man’s land” The Street in Mediterranean Culture Martina Franca, Italy • Note the presence of the chairs brought to the street from the home and the umbrellas drying on the street. • Note also the absence of litter on the street Rudofsky, B. (1969). Streets for people: A primer for Americans. New York: Van Nostrand, p. 245.