Cities are more important as cultural entities than their mere function as dormitories and industrial sites. Yet, the understanding of what makes a city ‘alive’ and appealing in cultural terms is still hotly contested - why are some cities so much more interesting, popular and successful than others? In this engaging discussion in the text City Life, Adrian Franklin takes the reader on a tour of contemporary western cities exploring their historical development and arguing that it is the transformative, ritual and performative qualities of successful cities that makes a difference. Emphasizing the importance of experience, the book represents the fluid complexity of the city as a living space, an environment and a posthumanist space of transformation. It will be of interest to all those engaging with the difficulties of urban life in sociology, human geography, tourism and cultural studies departments.
Chapter 5: The Dysfunctional City?
The Dysfunctional City?
One of the most interesting shifts in our thinking about cities and city life occurred during the 1970s and early 1980s when optimism and confidence about finding the means to produce ever-better cities gave way to anxiety and pessimism; the new thought that most, if not all cities were becoming dysfunctional, unsustainable and inherently problematic. The dysfunctional city, with its odours of decaying Victorian infrastructure, sprawling suburbs, its hard-to-let housing, difficult-to-police estates and neighbourhoods, its gangs, its drug-ridden streets and citizens cowering behind gated communities was the universal symbol of the collapse of the modernity project (see Atkinson and Helms, 2007). As a human technology whose historic purpose was defence, the contemporary city was more recently specifically targeted and spectacularly ...