Urbanity, (Neo)vitalism and Becoming

Authored by: John Pløger

The Ashgate Research Companion to Planning Theory

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754672548
eBook ISBN: 9781315279251
Adobe ISBN: 9781315279244

10.4324/9781315279251.ch12

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Abstract

Dictionaries define urbanity as the result of urban experiences which shape manners and ways of thinking and acting. Urbanity is a rarely used concept in urban theory and studies, and, if used, it mainly refers to public space as the centre of urban life. Urban sociology prefers the words ‘urbanism as a way of life’, and from an architect’s point of view ‘urban life’ concerns how space and place should be ordered. The functional and aesthetic order of space is key to shaping the ‘good’ city life. These ideas can be found in classical urban sociology from Park and Wirth to Patrick Geddes, Jane Jacobs and Charles Booth (Osborne and Rose 2004). Early urban planning was concerned with how to give a moral order to cities through space (Joyce 2003). Others define urbanity as the product of the socio-spatial ontology (Amin and Thrift 2002) including acknowledging the ‘throwntogetherness’ of people in space, or to put it another way, ‘cities are precisely arenas of chance encounters’ (Massey 2005: 179). Others again emphasize aesthetic experiences and the pleasure of gazing stimulated by encounters with strangers and informal interaction in cities (Bauman 1993; Sennett 1991).

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