As stated in both readings, a city is a representation/reflection of the people residing in it. As active citizens of our communities we have “a right to change [the city] to our heart’s desire”, but does our ability to change and form a city create issues among the citizens (Harvey, 429)?
Both David Harvey and Sharon Zukin agree that the impact of individuals within a city creates social, political, and economic issues. A city can sometimes reflect the ambivalent communist theory of Karl Marx. Due to the economy within a city, the upper class residents, like the proletariat, “seal themselves off for protection while the poor become ghettoized by default” (Harvey, 431). This comparison leads one to think, is urbanization a positive thing for our modern world? Most likely, if economic issues were not such a large factor within a city, the urban metropolis would be an ideal place to live. The city belongs to no one, but belongs to everyone, once again illustrating parts of the communist theory.
Sharon Zukin displays the same frame of thought as Harvey, referring to the city as a map of power of the bureaucrats being the social pressures in the economy, categorizing social classes in different parts of the city -ghettos and downtown (Zukin, 2013). Although her thoughts are similar, Zukin expands her issues into culture and cultural aesthetic. On a personal note, Zukin had clearly hit the issue of cities more thoroughly than Harvey.
Multiculturalism is promoted throughout large cities, but a specific culture is created by the city’s ruling powers to promote an aesthetic, perfect life. Zukin states that by the “control” of various cultures within a city, a clean public image can be formed to make the place appealing (Zukin, 351). The symbolic economy within a city, merging image and product, also influences the city a great deal (Zukin, 351). Symbolic economies change the employer-consumer relationship, and create the growth of the urban living areas. Extreme development of social places encourages the rise of the middle class. It is strictly based on appearance; the middle class is not thrilled with the economic state and development of a city. These developments lead to further classifications of the residents, as ethnic groups can be isolated and challenged. Zukin gives the example of “small developing districts” which revolve around the development of “specific themes”- China town for example (Zukin, 352). Social classes are not put into perspective; rather, they are magnified and separated, creating more of a social differentiation.
Personally, I agree with both articles. Change should be made within cities to prevent social inequalities, and demonstrate the true democratic values of the world. How hard can changing a city be?
Harvey, D. 2013. The Right to the City in The Urban Sociology Reader, Lin, J.
and Mele.C. (eds), New York: Routledge, 429-432. Course Reader
Zukin, S. 2013. Whose Culture? Whose City? in The Urban Sociology Reader,
Lin.J and Mele.C. (eds), New York: Routledge, 349-357. Course Reader