Cities and Urban Life, Third Edition

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9780131113954: Cities and Urban Life, Third Edition

Authored by two of the best-known writers in the field, this third edition of Cities and Urban Life provides a comprehensive introduction to urban sociology, urban anthropology, and urban studies. Primarily sociological in approach, it incorporates historical, social, psychological, geographical, and anthropological insights. The book, while strongly focused on the classical theories of urban sociology, also gives extensive attention to the “new” political economy approach to urban studies, using global cities as case studies to provide more relevance. Due to the increasing trend of urbanization, this book is especially relevant for today's urban sociologists, urban anthropologists, and others involved in urban planning.

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Now that we have entered a new century—indeed, a new millennium—the world stands on the brink of a historic landmark: In a few years, a majority of the planet's people will live in cities. Urban living is rapidly becoming the norm for members of our species. Surely, there is no more compelling reason to undertake the study of cities and urban life.

THE BASIC APPROACH

The approach of this text is multidisciplinary but fundamentally sociological. Readers will find here the enduring contributions of the classical European social thinkers, including Max Weber, Karl Marx, Ferdinand Tunnies, Georg Simmel, and Emile Durkheim, as well as those of early pioneers in North America, including Robert Park and Louis Wirth. Of course, many men and women have stood on the shoulders of these giants and extended our understanding. Thus, this text also considers the ideas of a host of contemporary urbanists, including Henri Lefebvre, Jane. Jacobs, Manuel Castells, John Logan, Harvey Molotch, Kevin Lynch, Lyn Lofland, Carol Stack, Herbert Gans, Michael Sorkin, and Michael Dear.

Yet, as this string of well-known names suggests, urban studies rests on research and theory developed within many disciplines. Cities and Urban Life, therefore, is truly a multidisciplinary text that draws together the work of historians (Chapter 2: "The Origins and Development of the World's Cities," and Chapter 3: "The Development of North American Cities"); sociologists (Chapter 4: "Cities and Suburbs of the Twenty First Century," Chapter 5: "Urban Sociology: The Classic Statements," Chapter 10: "Social Class: Urban and Suburban Lifestyles," Chapter 11: "Race, Ethnicity, and Gender: Urban Diversity," and Chapter 12: "Housing, Education, (:rime: Confronting Urban Problems"); social psychologists (Chapter 6: "Social Psychology: The Urban Experience"); geographers and urban ecologists (Chapter 7: "Geography and Spatial Perspectives: Making Sense of Space"); political economists working within various disciplines (Chapter 9: "The New Urban Sociology: The City and Capitalism"); anthropologists (Chapter 8: "Comparative Urbanism: The City and Culture," and Chapter 13: "Cities in the Developing World"); and architects as well as city planners (Chapter 14: "Planning the Urban Environment").

THE ORGANIZATION OF THIS TEXT

Part I of the text, "Understanding the City," introduces the main questions and themes that resonate throughout the book (Chapter 1). Part II, "History of Cities and New Trends," surveys the historical development of cities, noting how urban life has often differed in striking ways from contemporary patterns we take for granted (Chapters 2 and 3), and the current trends of sprawl, edge cities, and gated communities that are shaping the cities and suburbs of the new century (Chapter 4). Part III, "Disciplinary Perspectives," highlights the various disciplinary orientations that, together, have so advanced our understanding of cities (Chapters 5 through 9). Part IV, "The Anatomy of the City," focuses on the social organization of today's cities in North America, highlighting how urban living reflects the importance of social class (Chapter 10), race, ethnicity, and gender (Chapter 11), as well as forcing us to confront vexing problems such as housing, education, and crime (Chapter 12). Part V, "Global Urbanization," offers a look at the history and current urbanization in four major world regions: Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (Chapter 13). It is in these areas of the world that urbanization is now most rapid, with cities reaching unprecedented size. Finally, Part VI, "The Planning and Evaluation of Cities," examines the architectural, social, and political dimensions of urban planning, as well as points out the problems that prevent cities from living up to their promise of improving everyone's lives (Chapter 14).

FOUR KEY THEMES

This attempt to tell the urban story will lead us to consider a wide range of issues and to confront countless questions. Yet four main themes guide this exploration, and it is useful to make these explicit. To put it another way, whatever else a student entering the field of urban studies might learn, he or she must pay attention to these themes:

  1. Cities and urban life vary according to time and place. Since the idea of the city came to our ancestors some 10,000 years ago, the urban scene has been re-created time and again, all around the world, in countless ways. The authors—informed by their own travels to some 60 of the world's nations—have labored to portray this remarkable diversity throughout this text.
  2. Cities reflect and intensify society and culture. Although cities vary in striking ways, everywhere they stand as physical symbols of human civilization. For example, nowhere do we perceive the inward-looking world of the Middle Ages better than in the walled medieval cities of that era. Similarly, modern U.S. cities are powerful statements about the contemporary forces of industrial capitalism.
  3. Cities reveal the best and the worst about the human condition. Another way to "read" cities is as testimony to the achievements and failings of a way of life. Thus, while New York boasts some spectacular architecture, exciting public parks, vital art galleries, and vibrant concert halls, it also forces us to confront chronic prejudice, wrenching poverty, and sometimes explosive violence.
  4. Cities offer the promise—but not always the reality—of a better life. At least since the time of the ancient Greeks, people have recognized that the city holds the promise of living "the good life." Yet all urban places fall short of this ideal in some ways, and in a number of today's cities, people are struggling valiantly simply to survive. The great promise of urban living, coupled with the daunting problems of actual cities, provokes us to ask how (or, indeed, if) we can intentionally and thoughtfully make urban places better. Although we are realistic about the problems, we remain optimistic about the possibilities.

SPECIAL FEATURES OF THE TEXT

Two special features warrant the attention of readers.

Boxes. First, each chapter contains several boxed inserts. These boxes are of five kinds. Critical Thinking boxes ask readers to grapple with a particular problem or question, assess some evidence, and reach a reasoned conclusion. Urban Living boxes provide a picture of the city "at street level"—that is, a close-up look at how people really live. Looking Back boxes amplify the historical content of the text, reminding us that our cities are built on the past, culturally and, indeed, literally. The City in Literature boxes are testimony to our belief that writers and poets (from Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, and T. S. Eliot to Paul Theroux, John Steinbeck, Tom Wolfe, James Baldwin, Elijah Anderson, and Francine GarciaHallcom) have special abilities to capture the sights and sounds—and sometimes even the soul—of cities. Finally, Cityscape boxes present an extended literary account or scholarly analysis of some significant dimension of urban life.

Case Studies. The text includes eight case studies that offer a broad sociohistorical look at major cities in various regions of the world as they illustrate a chapter's key points. The cities profiled in these case studies are London (Chapter 2), New York (Chapter 3), Portland, Oregon (Chapter 4), Ming Peking (Chapter 8), Hellenic Athens (Chapter 8), Communist Beijing (Chapter 8), Chicago (Chapter 11), and Toronto (Chapter 14).

WHAT'S NEW IN THE THIRD EDITION

This new edition reflects a number of changes.

First, the chapters contain new, detailed data from the 2000 census that offer valuable insights into the growing diversity of U.S. society and the resulting changes to our cities and suburbs.

Second, in these post 9-11 days, we all understand the especial vulnerability of cities to acts of terrorism. Several sections of this book discuss that concern, and Chapter 3 discusses the efforts of New York City to move beyond the devastation.

Third, Chapter 7 contains a new section on the Los Angeles School and the postmodernist view of the linkages among global capitalism, social differentiation, and local political fragmentation.

Fourth, Chapter 9 offers expanded discussion of cities and the world economy, , and adds a new section evaluating the transformation of public space into packaged, thematic environments.

Fifth, Chapter 14 acquaints readers with the goals of Toronto's new master plan, one that could easily serve as a plan for all cities.

In addition, the entire text has been rewritten and updated, with new statistical data, the results of research published in the last four years, a number of new boxes and other features, and a new photo program.

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