GEOG 340: Day 22 Chapter 15 (cont’d)
Housekeeping Items • The projects are now due on Thursday the 21st. • Keltie may have gone to the Larry Beasley talk on Tuesday. If so, any feedback? • Sarah will also brief us on the waterfront planning and charrette exercise currently underway.
Housekeeping Items • Today, we’ll have Natasha presenting on her project. Chelsea has, apparently, dropped the course. • Any other announcements?
Chapter 15 • Impact of homelessness on students’ ability to do well at school and on people’s ability to get jobs and sign up for social assistance • Problems in and of cities. General problems of inequality and discrimination do not derive from the city per se, whereas neighbourhood effects – “local value systems that socialize residents into distinctive (and sometimes problematic) attitudes and behaviors” – do. An example would be the gang mentality, which is a manifestation of the lifestyle or habitus that we talked about last week. This is exacerbated by a concentration of people in poor neighbourhoods.
Chapter 15 • ‘Problems’ are also socially constructed, as with the example given in the book about how Chinese districts were viewed as dens of vice, corruption and inequity. • They also point out that homelessness has often been ignored as an issue; when are there enough homeless people that it is considered to be a problem? • There have been various moral panics – street prostitution, drug use (even with respect to marijuana), and gay sex. In recent years, at least in some countries, a more rational/ pragmatic approach has started to replace a more socially conservative one in regard to these issues.
Chapter 15 • Cities, as we have discussed before, have – especially during the Industrial Revolution – often been seen as physically, mentally, and even morally degenerating, at least for the working class and underclass. To some degree, this was true, and was partially the motive behind the urban parks movement. • Ironically, there is now evidence that suburbs produce physical degeneration. • Increasingly, immigrants came to be associated with these negative influences. As immigrants advanced up and out of the ghetto, Afro-Americans from the South took their place and their neighbourhoods were seen as the locus of social and economic problems. • The ideas of Wirth and the ‘Chicago School’, and those that came after them, saw these issues as the by-product of the breakdown of the normal patterns of social organization and integration.
“Gin Lane” by William Hogarth
Chapter 15 • As we have discussed, there was an optimistic belief in the 1960s that urban problems could be remedied, and the U.S. government – more so than Canada – put a lot of money into it. This was the time when affluence was fairly widespread, and governments had considerably more resources. This began to decline with the election of politicians representing the neo-liberalist agenda. • Inflation and, later, deindustrialization led to a loss of jobs to offshore factories and a major decline in the fortunes of traditional industrial cities. Neighbour-hoods had earlier also been, in some cases, devastated by freeway projects, as with the case of the South Bronx. Vancouver is one of the very few cities which was prevented with following through with its plans of building a downtown freeway system.
South Bronx – before and after the Cross-Bronx Express -way
Chapter 15 • I will just hit a few highlights from the rest of the chapter. • Changing family structures has led to a “feminization of poverty.” This is also the product of single female seniors without adequate pensions. • Large urban populations living without a sense of hope gives way to despair or causes people to take out their rage on each other; hence violent crime rates are often high (see Figure 15.19 on p. 388). In Bogota, where Peňalosa decreased the sense of despair, the murder rate went down 70%. • For many young people – feeling left out of the American dream – their only path to affluence is through gang-organized crime, which in turn leads to fear and a ‘bunker mentality’ amongst others.
Chapter 15 While the rate of poverty in the U.S. has gone down slightly since 1960, the absolute numbers of poor people have gone up. • In CBDs and neighbourhoods hit with disinvestment – both private and by municipal govern-ments (in the form of cutbacks) – a spiral of decay occurs. • Poverty impacts on physical and psycho-logical health, which further deepens the spiral.
Chapter 15 • Inner-city neighbourhoods in the U.S. have often been described as tinderboxes, and riots as a “festival of the oppressed.” The 1992 riot in Watts, in the aftermath of the police beating of Rodney King, “resulted in more than 1,000 fires, left more than 8,000 buildings damaged, and produced a death toll of 52. More than 8,000 people were arrested, [and] the bill for property damage was more than $5 billion…”
Chapter 15 • In Detroit, the city has ordered 1000s of housing demolitions, leaving whole blocks practically vacant. • In addition to residential sprawl, job sprawl has occurred, leaving low-skill jobs out of the reach of poor people in inner-city areas. • Such areas can also often be described as “food deserts.”
Chapter 15 • Drug abuse is rampant amongst many youth. • Income polarization is on the rise, as is homelessness. • The issue of environmental justice remains. • While contaminated sites are abundant, some brownfield sites are being redeveloped, as are greyfield sites. • The infrastructure gap in Canada is estimated at $145 billion as a result of federal and provincial cutbacks. • Traffic congestion is increasing causing added stress and road rage and $115 billion in travel delays, wasted fuel, and loss of productivity and leisure.
Questions • How are the problems of Canadian cities different from American cities? • What are some positive measures that could be taken to alleviate the environmental and social problems of the city?