The Perceived Nature Of Contemporary Urban Life Essay

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The Perceived Nature of Contemporary Urban Life Many writers are wondering whether the increased scale and proportion of the cities are exceeding human capabil- ities to live under conditions of security and mutual sup- port and concern. Some feel the sheer scale of urban life is forcing individual identity to yield to anonymity, indifference, and narrow self-interest. Commentaries on the growing fear, powerlessness, and anger of urban resi- dents are numerous. Yet, even against the backdrop of serious social, economic, and political urban challenges, other writers extol the many virtues of urban life. They note urban life offers residents a broader and more varied mix of intellectual and cultural stimulation, economic opportunity, and personal choice in pursuing various so- cial roles and relations and moral options--including seemingly endless options for money, opportunity, free- dom, excitement, diversity, intellectual stimulation, im- proved public utilities and services, transportation facili- ties, accessibility to health care services, and multicultur- alism. These too are part of the daily fare of urban life (Marsella, 1991). Over the centuries, a remarkable ambivalence re- garding urban life has emerged. Plato considered rural life to be benevolent and urban life to be malevolent (Ericksen, 1979). Thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Henry David Tho- reau, prized the virtues of pristine rural life and associ- ated cities with
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