Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Missing the point: cities, cosmopolitanism, and progressivism as a multicentury trend

People have been writing about the link between "sidewalks" and votes for Democratic candidates, or the support for "liberalism" in cities and towns versus the support for conservatism is less developed areas.  See "Why Do Sidewalks Predict Whom We’ll Vote For?" from Streetsblog.

Um, this has been the case for thousands of years, although back in the day, urban middle classes (bourgeoisie) in countries like France weren't looking to vote for President Obama.  (And of course, I wrote about this as a more recent phenomenon as it related to the 2004 article from the Stranger.)

The history of democracy is in part a history of urbanism.

-- "Rise of Towns," International History Project
-- "History of World Civilization - Greek Civilization: Polis; Athens" from the Historian and his facts blog

The rise of democratic government grew out of the creation of towns as semi-independent self-governing communities not directly managed by the monarchy.

Back in college, I remember coming across the work of Prof. Ronald Inglehart at the U of Michigan and his study of post-industrial social and political attitudes in Europe (although I never took a course from him).  Now this work has been repositioned and expanded into a international political attitudes survey project called the World Values Survey.

-- Chapter on "Culture and Democracy" by Ronald Inglehart
-- "Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values," Inglehart and Baker, American Sociological Review, 2000

The real issue isn't why urban-metropolitan area residents are progressive--and it's all relative.  In the DC metropolitan area, places like Prince William and Loudoun Counties in Virginia are considered quite conservative relative to Arlington or Montgomery Counties, DC or incorporated cities like Takoma Park, Maryland.  But compared to rural Montana, they are decidedly liberal, and voted for Obama.

The real issue is why exurban residents are neither "progressive" nor "post-industrial" although this is by no means a strictly urban-suburban-rural continuum.

And this is discussed in thousands and thousands and thousands of histories on the development of cities, modernization, and political theory.

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At 11:47 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Interesting point. I often make the point that politics is bigger than urbanism, but you're right about "town dwellers."

Nice maps here:

At 6:06 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

that map link is amazing. thanks.


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