|← Changing the Groupthink||Case Analysis →|
Globalization and the City In this paper, we analyze the effects of globalization on the city life and attitudes. The theme we have chosen is “Globalization and the city”. We draw specific references to the views and ideas expressed by William G. Flanagan in his work titled Urban Sociology: Images and Structure. What is more, we analyze 4 photographs (found in the Appendix), which express an important aspect of the theme, mainly total urbanization of the modern cities and its effects on people and city life. To begin with, the social consequences of the industrial revolution raised important philosophical questions about the condition of humanity, for example, how the massing of people in cities would affect the social order. It was thus the growth of the Western industrial city, as well as the wider economic changes transforming the world, that fostered the development of sociology, and urban sociology in particular. As one can see from the picture 2 – which refers to the Flanagan’s vision of the city – modern cities look like a crowded jungle made of bricks, steel, and asphalt. We may observe a typical street on this picture, which shows young people walking and having a casual conversation. This photo illustrates how perception of nature, beauty, and living conditions have changed throughout the years. The people on the picture are evidently happy because they are relaxed and content in their walk. Yet, they sky (the nature’s foremost representation) is barely seen between the huge buildings that stand on the both sides of the street. The light can’t reach those individuals who walk on the street because buildings get in its way. Another important aspect about this photo is the waiving flags that symbolize one’s pride in his or her country. This tradition, unlike the trend to construct high buildings that block everything from light to free spirit, came from the old times when people were putting national flags on high polls to symbolize their pride in the country. The above discussion leads us into another important aspect of the globalization theme. At this point, we have to note that more recent theoretical trend, and subdivisions within sociology (for example, urban ecology and urban political economy) have contributed to an increasingly specialized field.
Furthermore, add to this the fact that researchers and theorists in other disciplines-anthropology, geography, history, political economy-are often involved in work that is indistinguishable from the interests of urban sociologists and it soon becomes clear that urban sociology remains a heterogeneous mix of issues, methodologies, and perspectives. To continue, picture 1, unlike picture 2 illustrates a beautiful building that is seen as a part of the sky and that, unlike objects in the previous scene, doesn’t obstruct or block anything. This building represents another important aspect of urbanization and globalization – Corporate World. Corporations emerged in the global society that prepared perfect ground for large enterprises: 1. Corporation needs workers (many skilled employees) who can get to and from work relatively quickly. 2. Large numbers of people require work to pay for their accommodations in the crowded buildings that block almost everything the human nature might desire. Therefore Corporation appeared to be a perfect solution for everybody: it allows people to make money and it makes money itself. This picture also shows that people make a conscious choice of living in the “urban jungle”. They can move to the country and even make a living out there, yet a few follow this path. As it was mentioned above, picture 1 illustrates the glory and mighty of the Corporate World that can afford to construct beautiful buildings that form an unalienable part of the Urban look of the modern cities. Returning to globalization, the fact remains that while the questions that engage the attention of urban sociologists are broadly divergent-from the experience of the individual to structural analyses of broad-scale political and economic analyses-cities themselves constitute a socially defined environments that inform the choices people make, choices that create and alter those same environments in ever-new and demanding ways. As a consequence, while there has been a significant expansion in the scope of urban sociology in recent times, the central question of how the shifting ecology of urban environments influence human behavior remains a dominant concern. Picture 3 shows yet another aspect of the globalization and the city theme– we build walls to protect ourselves and to separate us from the unwanted matters of the world we do not have any intentions to see.
In other words, picture 3 refers to one of the most popular aspects of globalization and the city – separation with the means of power, walls, and fences. For instance, the US seriously considers building a huge wall on its border with Mexico to be protected from illegal immigrants who come into the country seeking work. Another example includes rich people living in the gated communities and constructing huge fences around their buildings to protect themselves from unwanted intruders or even common trespassers who may want to take a look at their property. Such examples illustrate the fascination of modern individuals to build walls around their buildings and cities in their understandable, yet very questionable desire, to protect people from other people. To continue, Flanagan correctly identifies Simmel's "metropolitan man" as having two main aspects to his personality. In the first instance, the biased attitude protects against the shock of exorbitant external stimuli. The other aspect, in a specifically modern way, is more expressive, in that it identifies a form of conduct or an exercise of liberty that manifests itself in an urban aesthetics of self-creation (Rapport and Dawson, 1998). From the early essay "What Is Society?" (1896) through The Philosophy of Money (1900) to the summation of his sociological investigations in Sociology (1908), Simmel attempted to establish sociology as an independent discipline, devoting much of his investigations to the life-world of individuals as the key to understanding the larger concept of society. By extension, in the same way that Joyce's relationship with his native Dublin remains central to evolving critical interpretations of his fiction, Simmel's own attachment to Berlin, from his central city birthplace at the corner of Leipziger and Friedrichstrasse through the city's most rapid period of expansion, reflects a unique and informing relationship linking the man, his environment, and his work. Recalling his father's own words, Hans Simmel recalled, "Berlin's development from a city to a metropolis in the years around and after the turn of the century coincides with my [Georg] own strongest and broadest development” (Frisby, 1992, p.
19). Simmel, part analyst of urban phenomena, part structural sociologist, and part investigator of the economic and social fabric of urban society, was also an astute aesthetic and cultural critic of modernity. Like his colleague, At the same time Flanagan argued that cities, unlike rural communities, were by nature overwhelming. However, whereas Simmel looked to the medieval cities of early modern Europe for his "ideal-typical" form, Flanagan isolated the modern city as paradigmatic of the dangers and possibilities of civilization. Contending that the prehistory of modernity lay in the development of the mature money economy, Flanagan predicated his sociological investigations on the metaphysical principle of the fundamental interrelatedness of all phenomena. The city, like society, comprised a labyrinth of interconnecting human relationships, many of which remained occluded; it was the task of sociology, Flanagan argued, to reveal these hidden connections. According to Flanagan, while the location of modern experience is the metropolis and the mature money economy, it is ultimately the development of the latter that accounts for the origins of modernity. Like Marx, Flanagan viewed the development of the capitalist money economy as the basis of modernity (with money, at the aesthetic level, the symbol). In time, Flanagan’s investigations of the consequences of the money economy contributed to a larger theory of cultural alienation as the basis for the tragedy of modern society. Within this model, society's worst version of itself is often played out in the city. It was here that the impersonality of life and rational market processes converged on people so that all they could do to defend themselves was to behave in non-emotional, reasoned, and functional ways. Picture 4 shows one more aspect of the globalization and the city theme – night life. According to Flanagan, urbanization brought many various matters into people’s being and the night life is one of the major ones. The picture shows that modern city never sleeps. It’s not only cities like New York or Chicago that are famous for their night trends.
There are street lights in all cities, there are people working and walking at night in every small or big city, and there are those who sleep during day-time and live during night-time in every city in the world. Cities changed the common perception of the seasons, times of the day and night, common regime for individuals to be followed (e.g. living in the city, unlike rural area, doesn’t means that one is to get up in the morning and go to bed at 9PM). However, we are not suggesting that urbanization is all bad. No, we are merely trying to state that city has changed the common perception of many things, which are unlikely to ever return to their normal state. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that this new state of affairs is bad or unacceptable, it is just different.