Australia’s East Coast Exopolis – the Post-Sustainable Sprawl?

Sociologists have tackled with the idea of urban alienation for well over a hundred years. Key theorists such as Ferdinand Toennies, Emile Durkheim and Georg Simmel each identified confronting aspects of city life. Simmel in particular, in the “Metropolis and Mental Life said that the city dweller becomes intellectual, blase’ and reserved because of the influence of money and calculation, and also because of the great press of people and sensations. However, modernist architects such as LeCorbusier took a counter position, and proffered a great enthusiasm for the speed and excitement of city life, and for the destruction of the old to make way for the new. Many, contemporary cities would offer both sensations; the intense excitement of the new, combined with social disconnection strong enough to force some people to ‘rent a cuddle’ in order to secure any kind of intimacy in their urban lives.

However, a key part to understanding urban alienation is to understand that not all cities are the same, and that the shape, size and interconnectivity of the city can isolate people. As Benjamin Ross notes, since governments in the USA started sponsoring the expansion of suburbs after both World Wars – as part of the New Deal, and later as part of the Post WWII Housing boom and the subsidising of interstate highways through gas taxes – suburban sprawl and the highway have become the defining features of contemporary cities. This has had many adverse effects, including the demolition and building over of existing urban natural spaces, heritage areas, and cohesive ethnic villages. It was the kind of technocratic, top-down development that Jane Jacobs fought against in the 1960s, oblivious to the existence of street level communities and multi-use urban design.

It also lead to the rise of Los Angeles style ‘post-modern cities, characterised by large expanses of suburban sprawl spanning several, disconnected urban centres or nodes (rather than around one central CBD). Edward Soja describes six qualities that characterise cities of this type in his book “Postmetropolis’, including i) post-Fordist cities shifting to post-industrial modes of production; ii) the cosmopolis characterised by globalised flows of urban capital, labour and culture; the iii) turning of the city inside out as the sprawl creates suburban ‘exopolises, (exurbias) lacking natural social centres within which people can connect and socialise, and sometimes built around the junction of highways as ‘Edge Cities’; iv) the fractal city, characterized by new polarizations, inequalities and stratifications, instead of the old capital-labour and black-white divide (e.g now have the urban working poor); v) the Carceral archipelago, the institution of ‘hard control’ processes, such as fortress cities, surveillance technologies, and the substitution of police for private security guards, and vi) Simcities, ‘soft-control’ hyper real cities and neighbourhoods oriented to ‘lifestyle communities’. Many of these features can be seen in the major Australian cities today (just Google the controversy over Westconnex, or an image of the intersection of the M5 and M7 in Sydney’s west, to see these points).

However, the final piece the suburban sprawl puzzle, particularly in Australia. is the suburban obsession with the automobile. Peter Newman notes that Australian cities were amongst the first in the world (Perth perhaps the very first) to transform from Walkable Cities into Automobile cities. He notes Marchetti’s Constant; the rule that spending more than an hour a day commuting creates dissonance, reduces personal wellbeing, and will push people to seek other work-life arrangements. However, he argues that instead of enabling us to accord with this rule, our car culture has undermined it. He notes that the freeway lanes we have invested in so heavily can move a maximum of 2,500 people an hour, compared to heavy rail which can move up to 50,000 people an hour, so it is no wonder that highways have created gridlock more than freedom. There are now few opportunities to avoid this debilitating commute; after all, the jobs are in the centre of cities like Melbourne and Sydney, where very few people can afford to live (and certainly not live the Australian suburban dream). Newman argues for the need for more infill and urban renewal, public transport, high speed rail, and value capture to fund these activities.

We need to plan carefully to preserve and create social, sustainable communities with integrated public transport and high-speed rail (not highways) connecting (rather than gutting) cities. Otherwise we could be looking at the spread of car-locked McMansions as far as we can see north and south along the coastline, and the rise of Australia’s East Coast Exopolis – a post-sustainable sprawl?

#S208UOW17 #Tut9

Posted in Research, SOC208 - Cities, Communities and Families, UOW, Urban Studies.

51 Comments on Australia’s East Coast Exopolis – the Post-Sustainable Sprawl?

Liam Marsh said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I have never liked the city of Sydney very much, it is great for a visit for something different just to experience something you can't experience in the small Illawarra suburb where i live. The reason that I don't like the city is that as others have said, it is a lot busier, fast paced and there are people everywhere. Humans were designed to be relational and I find that in the city is where you will often find the most unsocial people. Mostly due to the fact that most people who are in the big cities such as Sydney are more than likely there for work and don't have time to socialise with those they don't already know. As for commuting in either a car or public transport, I think no matter which mode of transport one who works in the city takes they will still feel a sense of loneliness. Whether they are travelling solo in the car for hours to work or sitting on a train for a little less time but with headphones in, reading a newspaper or having a sleep in the quiet carriage which is designed for people not to socialise. Either way the city-worker is not socialising to and from work. As roger stated there is hardly any option but to face the long commute as majority of jobs are in city-centres where it is hard to afford to live. The redevelopment of current urban areas could make the commute easier however in terms of social alienation i don't think it will make a difference. We are too immersed in our own worlds with advancements in technology and the 24/7 economy we often don't have time to make new social relationships. #S208UOW17 #Tut9 #Mon1130

Jessica Formosa said : Guest Report 2 years ago

It is interesting to read that you too live in a small suburb in which you don't necessarily associate much with neighbours; I too am the same although I thought I was alone on this as most people I know are best mates with their neighbours, eat at each others houses and have parties with them - all of which my family and I don't do. We simply just say hello when we cross paths but thats about it. Hence, I agree with you saying that our suburban environment is lonely although this opinion would shift if I lived in a different communal setting where their was a tight relationship amongst one another.

rachael waistell said : Guest Report 2 years ago

As much as I and many others love the city, especially a fun day trip or weekend a way, it’s interesting to consider the concept of urban alienation. I love the hustle and bustle of the city, I love the easy use of a much more developed public transportation system. A system more reliable, efficient and regular than that of public transport on the south coast. I love the variety of shops and the city lights on Sydney harbour. However the hustle and bustle that I love so much becomes too loud and too intrusive on my personal space, its takes over the parks and harbours and evokes my desire to head home, back to the ease of my car and the people I love. Majority of Australians don’t live in these cities, the cities we romanticise. We move in each day on this territory, work and then rush back home, to our suburban homes and lives. We listen to music, read books and all together shut off the strangers with home we coincide with, we alienate one another to rush back to the suburban cities we love. I’ve always identified the alienation felt within the city to its overpopulation, however perhaps this is due to Australia’s resource wasting lifestyle. We live in Mcmansions, with more space than humanly possible to use, at the cost of long hours of daily commutes, we drive unsustainable cars and provide places to park these cars in the office hours, over choosing to live a sustainable and more efficient life. It seems this urban alienation, is due to the constant choice of Australians to live beyond their needs, to live resource heavy and private life, away from society.

Emily Martin said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I absolutely agree Asha. Even though people may be physically closely to one another within a city, emotionally many people are not. For many people who live in a large city, like you said feel isolated when not socially connected. But why are these cities like this in the first place? How have we become so socially isolated, but still within close proximity of one another? Is it due to the increasing rise of new technologies? Or is it something that may be engrained in us a little deeper? #S208UOW17 #Tut9 #Mon1130

Kareem Choubassi said : Guest Report 2 years ago

#S208UOW17 #Tut9 #Mon1130

Asha O'Brien said : Guest Report 2 years ago

Such overwhelming and busy places like cities have the ability to make one feel very small and isolated when not in their own social circles. When passing strangers in the streets, it is not common for people to make eye contact with one another and smile as people would in small towns or suburban areas. This creates alienation from the people around us, as we feel they are not significant as strangers despite how many people live in the same city area. Despite physically being in close proximity to one another, people will feel lonely when not socially connected. #SOC208UOW17 #Tut9 #Wed1430

Asha O'Brien said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I completely agree, despite the physical 'closeness' in which we are now situated in our living arrangements and ways of transport, we are more isolated than we have been before.

Ryosuke Takahashi @roy23ald said : Guest Report 2 years ago

According to Simmel (1903, p.5), it is mentioned that feeling blasé is derived from a money economy. It is also mentioned that “achievement in the concentration of purchasable things which stimulates the individual to the highest degree of nervous energy”. In addition, feeling blase would be made in an immoderately sensuous life because of the level of stimulating the nerves. Simmel (1903, p.5) writes that people stimulates the nerves to their reactivity until they recognize that they cannot react any more. As mentioned in the lecture, Simmel suggests that people who live in cities are intellectual and blase because of the influence of money and calculation. In my opinion, this could lead to alienation. As Roger writes in his blog, Australia becomes automobile society from walkable environment as well as Japan where I come from. Merits and demerits are suggested in the lecture. For instance, car has enriched our life, however, it cost so much in terms of purchasing cars and car maintenance. In addition, health problems such as obesity are concerned because of losing daily exercise. Thus, cars could lead to not only financial but also health problems. As mentioned in the lecture, even though cities develop in terms of technology and transportation, cities still might be alienated and not socialized. In conclusion, it is necessary to consider well-designed cities so that people can live comfortable in terms of living environment. #S208UOW17 #Tut9 #Wed1430

Michael Bujcevski said : Guest Report 2 years ago

Connections to the city can vary depending on each individual dwelling within it, however negative emotions are evident in city life which can be seen everyday. This leads us to believe that cities are a sort of negative emotionless place where we work and external stimuli makes it harder on an individual which in turn further increases ones negative experiences. A stronger connection to the city as well as the individuals living within it can help one better understand and appreciate the city and negate all of the negative emotions felt.

Michael Bujcevski said : Guest Report 2 years ago

This idea of alienation within a city is one that has been around for a long time and isn't really changing at all. For one to feel alienated in society implicates that persons lack of connection to that society that they are living in. In the Ross reading in mentions federal intervention and this could be a significant reason why alienation is evident within societies. Federal intervention led to the automobile dependent lifestyle, home ownership becoming more widespread, but yet the housing market stayed the same and was segregated between race and income. Large amounts of urban sprawl led to a surplus of discouraging traffic conditions along with 'super blocks' which is mentioned in the reading and these ideals would lead to a car-centric suburb which was evident in America as Radburn discusses. The high speed rail is the ideal concept that could possibly prevent the urban sprawl from getting worse, however due to the cost as well as time to make such a transport system it it not looking as though it will be made any time soon. Ross, Benjamin 2014, Dead end : suburban sprawl and the rebirth of American urbanism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. null. #S208UOW17 #TUT9 #WED1430

Jordan Osborne said : Guest Report 2 years ago

The benefits of rail transport are quite clear cut in terms of environmental, social, and economic benefit - as outlined by Benjamin Ross in this weeks reading. But there’s a distinct attachment to the automobile - particularly in Western societies - that I believe is colossal roadblock to stronger policy focus from government on rail infrastructure. And without the infrastructure there to transition people away from driving, there seems to be no solution in sight.

Eunkyu Kim @egkim21 said : Guest Report 2 years ago

People feel isolation and loneliness in cities. It does not matter how closely the houses are stick together. People tend to communicate and have relationship in their own boundaries and not to be involved with the people who are physically the closest to themselves. This is because I suppose that as Simmel stated in the lecture note that people tend to choose their living accordingly to the money and calculation thus many people around the country gather up in the city. This cause people to be isolated since the number of people surrounding individuals are too much to manage to be socially connected. This is what I have felt living in cities in my home country and though alleviated than the cities of my home country, in Australia as well. Further, lack of accessibility to go somewhere that people want to go by walking or transportation can also make people to feel isolated. Although Automobile cities as Roger mentions can have some pros which people can get rid of their stress with riding a car and go on a trip, but it brings negative emotions to people living in the cities that cannot afford to have a car. I feel that Australia is more flexible to be in somewhere with public transportation though hard to go on a trip with transportation than is in America. One of my friend lives in one of the cities in Indiana, US and feels extremely stressful and isolated since she cannot go anywhere without a car and she does not have a license to drive and cannot afford to have a car. Thus, I think that city designers should consider making cities that can enable people to be less stressful to be connective with others in the neighborhood and consider public transportation to be the one to be used in traveling in and across cities and places. #S208UOW17 #tut9 #Wed1430

Grace Potter said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I do agree with Simmel (1903) that cities are indeed contributing to the increased feelings of loneliness and negative emotions and headspaces such as depression. This reminded me of similar conclusions drawn from our generation's increased use of social media and a focus on living online. This makes me believe that we cannot be blaming our cities wholly for these emotions and social exclusion. If anything, the idea of cities is better than the suburbs for socialisation with so many more venues (eg bars, restaurants and cafes) to socialise in and a diverse range of activities to participate in. However the downside of cities (eg. commuting for long periods, packed streets, apartment blocks) can contribute to making people feel more isolated. However we must remember that the move towards the city and the young demographic of our cities includes the huge spike in social media and exclusion through those platforms as well. The combination of both is therefore resulting in an increase in negative moods but we cannot just blame our environments. What about the exclusion that young people still living in the suburbs with their parents feel from their own age bracket who have moved on?

Dzenet Tinjak said : Guest Report 2 years ago

During the lecture, I found it rather interesting yet distressing to see the statistics showing how emotionally negative people were in terms of living in the city, in comparison to a smaller town or suburb. Imagine living in a city like Sydney, constantly busy, constantly congested and overwhelmingly expensive. It’s no surprise that people are tired, lonely and depressed. However, it is worrying. These negative emotions can have extensive implications on our society. Australian people are so often perceived as connected and sociable…are our cities taking away our social identity? I believe so….and because of this, direct action needs to occur before we become an isolated nation. #S208UOW17 #Tut9 #Wed1430

Lauren said : Guest Report 2 years ago

After reading Simmel’s (1903) article it is easy to see how we manifest more negative emotions whilst living within the city. Not purely because of our own mental and emotional state but the need to deal with all the external stimuli that surrounds the city. The constant flow of people moving to and from, the loud noises from traffic and the smells that make it impossible to breathe for a few seconds. I fully support Simmel’s understanding that this external stimuli depletes a person’s energy levels. Living in the city results in stimulating all our nerves to their utmost reactivity causing us to have blasé attitudes affecting our connections and relationships. I feel that all the external stimuli that is part of city life is directly correlated to the increased negative emotions of individual’s living in cities. With the large availability of different groups and relationships that people within the city can be involved in, it’s easy to see that some if not all, are not overly strong connections. Which again, not having strong connections increases the likelihood of people having a greater prevalence of a negative emotional state of well-being. #S208UOW17 #Tut9 #Mon16:30

Isabella Marzano said : Guest Report 2 years ago

Simmel's idea that the ''deepest problems in modern life flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence” is becoming increasingly relevant. Cities are packed with people who are all clustered together so maintaining individuality is difficult as the mainstream is almost forced on the person if they want to survive in the city. This concept can also be detrimental as this can cause loneliness which has negative affects on mental health. Money and success in the city has started to overtake focus on family/friends who may be able to provide a support system. Do big cities have effective support systems? Should we start investing in initiatives like these? Sprawl has clearly changed social dynamics so we must adapt to this and use in or favour.

Joel Keen @TonySpark13 said : Guest Report 2 years ago

Trees vs infrastructure, I'm not convinced it has to be one or the other. Statistically the number of people that light-rail can move compared to cars is significantly larger, meaning efficiency is increased - basically, get more for giving less - what more incentive do you think we need? One question - a little off topic but relevant to your comment - that your comment raised for me: Do you think we should exponentially plant more trees to commemorate the loss of soldier's lives, or stop sending soldiers to die in wars? #S208UOW17 #tut9 #Mon1630

Joel Keen @TonySpark13 said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I find the way cars influenced the shaping of cities and the way cities were shaped to promote the automobile industry extremely fascinating. When you add in mental health the issue becomes even more important. Do you think that the initial aversion to commonsense logic in policy - for example, creating for those without cars almost impossible to navigate 'superblocks' and derailing comprehensively more efficient modes of transport such as trams and trains - always carried with it the potential for long-term repercussions on the individual's mental well-being? I think it is very possible that the social issues raised through this economically determined major development for city infrastructure - and the raised level of cognitive dissonance of those in power, required to ignore established facts and justify personal interests taking precedence over those of society - were always going to lead to an eventual cognitive dilemma in their manifestation. Maybe public transport does not directly address this problem, however it creates a foundation for reform of social infrastructure that may facilitate a shift in public psychology, moving us toward a more social existence. #S208UOW17 #tut9 #Mon1630

Joel Keen said : Guest Report 2 years ago

On the flip-side of that alienation experienced through city living, is the 'freedom' that that particular type of anonymity can provide. My growing-up experience is something similar to what you described regarding Wollongong, where almost every journey beyond your front door calls for interaction with someone familiar. Perhaps the fact that my home town was/is significantly smaller than Wollongong over-exaggerates this familiarity. This involuntary inclusion is something I found oppressive to a certain extent and the 'freedom' to be me was only experienced when the imposed expectations of such a small community no longer dictate day to day actions. I wonder if the reality lies in a balance of both, or if city-living will always be related back to being either an exclusively alienating or liberating experience? #S208UOW17 #tut9 #Mon1630

Mark Tiere said : Guest Report 2 years ago

This week’s lecture focused on Georg Simmel and other theorists who have worked extensively in understanding aspects of city life such as urban alienation. In relation to Simmel’s work, Roger noted that the city forces individuals to become intellectually blasé and reserved, due to the influence of money and personal gain. This can be linked to the work of Claude Fischer, another sociologist we have looked at in SOC208, who did a lot of research on the effects of city, in regards to how people live and interact with each other. He introduces three specific theories termed deterministic, compositional and subcultural. The deterministic theory he presents, links up with this week’s topic because it focuses on city living, in that unlike the rural environment, the urban environment (city) increases social and psychological disorders. For example, the increased stimuli of noise, lights, traffic, congested populations, and the overall fast pace in which people live, can cause undue stress on individuals. In response, city dwellers adapt by withdrawing from interactions with others, and what little interactions they do have, are rational and unemotional and only serve as a means to an end. The avoidance of any interpersonal relations and fewer interactions are precursors to deteriorating social, mental and physical health. To counter these problems, initiatives such as the rent a cuddle as mentioned in the lecture have been organised to help individuals experience a sense of companionship and belonging. I have never experienced city life, due to being raised in Wollongong and the small country town of Griffith. These towns, in particular Griffith are quite slow paced, relaxed and quiet. Wollongong at times can be quite congested with traffic, but only at certain times of the day when people are travelling to and from work; however, it is not on the scale of big cities such as Sydney and Melbourne where these problems are increased dramatically. #S208UOW17 #MON16:30

Joel Keen said : Guest Report 2 years ago


Renee Callovi said : Guest Report 2 years ago

Georg Simmel is someone who's theories have really begun to resonate with me during my studies. I lived in New York City for 4 years after I graduated high school, and many of Simmel’s philosophies and theories I have been able to experience first hand. I understand the disattachement he talks about, how when you live in a city you almost become numb to everything going on around you, and become “blasé”. However, I can also appreciate and agree with LeCorbusier, and his ideas that the city life creates excitement of new experiences and senses. BUT! I also agree not all cities are created equal and they all have their strong points and weaknesses. I found a very interesting article about Orlando, Florida, and the layout of the city. Although I may be biased as I spent much of my life there, I never actually thought about the planning of the city. The more I learn about suburban sprawl, and city planning, the more everything seems to fit into place. "Orlando is the only true city in Florida," says Kelly Cohen, who sits on eight boards in the city and chairs the city's public policy committee. "Urban planners say, from a city sense of having a Downtown core and then well-planned, residential areas moving outwards from that, it's the only proper city in the state.” #S208UOW17 #Tut9

Georgia Higgins said : Guest Report 2 years ago

Urban alienation is a condition in social relationships reflected by a low degree of integration or common values and a high degree of distance or isolation between individuals, or between an individual and a group of people in a community or work environment. Taking into account the price of living, the availability of geographical work opportunities, public transport access and the rise of technology it is most definitely certain to state that society is changing its once very traditional views on socialisation and the means in which it occurs. The separate size, shape and connectivity of each city should be accounted for when considering how social relationships are projected within each community. Benjamin Ross states that suburban sprawl and the highway have become pinnacle features of contemporary cities – this controversial aspect whilst a clever innovative idea has raised concern of lost heritage, tradition and culture amongst connected and strong communities. The introduction of the automobile in Australia saved individuals from the loss of work opportunities whilst still giving them access to the Australian suburban dream. Peter Newman makes an interesting point as he states that heavily invested freeway lanes can move approximately 2,500 individuals an hour opposed to railway lines which move close to 50,000 individuals an hour. This being said why isn’t there more money being invested into public transport access to and from suburban towns opposed to investing money into highways? More individuals would be accounted for hourly and they would still continue to live their Australian suburban dream? It takes me just under 1 hour to arrive in the centre of Sydney city via public transport, opposed to driving an hour and half there in my car – taking into account petrol finances and parking. It will be interesting to see where the Government distributes their finances for transport after the implementation of the fast railway lines from Sydney to Canberra, Wollongong to Canberra and Western Sydney to Canberra. #S208UOW17 #Mon1630 #Tut9

david scognamiglio said : Guest Report 2 years ago

The transition of cities from Walkable Cities into Automobile cities has significant impacted the layout of modern cities as well as dividing the general populace. The expansion of motorways like the M5, M2 and M7 in Sydney have changed the layout of neighborhoods. The demolition of housing estates and community buildings in order to build these massive roads has devalued the integrity of these communities. There have also divided the once homologous community into minorities. The continuation of this will only further divided people and lead to the creation of oversize motorways.

Georgia Henderson said : Guest Report 2 years ago

You raised some really important and relevant parts in relation to our location along with the feelings and negative and/or positive connotations in which we place with them. The disconnection and isolation from one individual to the next is extremely common, more so than not in most cases. There is a significant gap in the concept of community, forcing individuals away from each other. The statistic you presented with regards to NYC living is astonishing, and the irony of being surrounded by millions of people yet feeling and being alone is all too common. However, although this is a common situation, little seems to be done about it, the 'each to their own' attitude continues on. #S208UOW17 #tut9 #mon1130

Kasey Coomber @kasey_coomber said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I completely agree, technology is not helping us be connected it is taking away from face-to-face interaction. it is convenient for busy people to use social media as their means of socialising but they aren't connecting, rather sitting on the outside looking in on other lives. #s208uow17 #tut9 #mon1130

Kasey Coomber @kasey_coomber said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I agree with this, wollongong for example is becoming highly populated due to people moving here for more affordable housing and it is now becoming an alienated city. #SOC208UOW17 #TUT9 #MON1130

Kareem Choubassi said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I agree with the point that cities are now areas of isolation, in that we're all there, but rarely communicate or show any inclination to without need. In terms of how suburban sprawl has affected it, it's essentially led to Australia becoming a car dependant country, which creates a disconnect from homes and the city centres, and the people living in them. Apart from that, myself and most people I know are rarely social with our surrounding neighbours. From just 8 years ago when I lived with my parents, who were in contact daily with our neighbours, compared to now where the most I'll say to a neighbour is ask how they're going. It's interesting to think about what factors go into this social disconnect from suburban sprawl changing social dynamics to the rise in the younger, technologically-savvy generation.

Kasey Coomber @kasey_coomber said : Guest Report 2 years ago

The city is inherently connected to alienation, the city is a place of hustle and bustle, visually people seem to have lots to do and time is a major factor as time management effects how other workers/employers perceive someone, this leads to loneliness in the city as people tend to ignore each other to get their tasks done. As suburban areas are family orientated people who spend their time in these areas take the time to say hello to someone they walk past in the street or they get to know their neighbour’s where in the city most people do not know the people who live in their apartment building. Their social fix is gained through social media as it can be accessed whenever they want for however long they want and then their back to work, this replaces face-to-face social interaction and leads to alienation and loneliness in the city. Cars replace public transport so they therefore replace another opportunity for social interaction, it could be said increase in private transport to the city is a product of alienation, depression and isolation (Newman, 2012). #S208UOW17 #Tut9 #Mon1130

Abigail Crane said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I partly agree with your comment. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other, adults would socialize while the kids played in the park, and there was nothing to hide - word got around quickly. However, these days it doesn't happen so much due to the rise in technology. Kids and adults sit inside on phones and other devices (even when at friend's houses), like is this really how we socialize these days? It's definitely becoming more like the large cities where everyone sticks to themselves and goes about their own business. Even in my home town, it has grown so much that I barely see anyone I know, which is really sad. Sometimes I wish it still had that strong social aspect because I would hate to live in a world where people only connect through technology.

Katherine Lewis said : Guest Report 2 years ago

To be constantly surrounded by thousands of people, and to yet not know a single face or name, is probably one of the most alienating and isolating expereinces ever. I agree with the notion of the stranger put forward by Simmel, which suggests that in public urban spaces the individuals that affect us are the ones we repeatedly observe and yet do not directly interact with it. The notion of the city as a constantly heaving mass of people is one that suggests the overload of people creates alienation as it is hard to maintain a sense of individualism when you become a cog in the machine of the city, put there to partake in the systems of capitalism. Individuals become disconnected from each other as they compete against each other to achieve the promotion, or raise, or other spoils which begin to mean more than connection to one another. Why I believe this is more prominent within the city, is due to the idea that a suburb or more rural area, allows for distance from the pressures of capitalism which are more present within the city. Suburbs offer green spaces and other common meeting areas which allow for individuals to meet and relax, away from the hum of work that is often associated with a city. Consider the article presented by the Guardian which asks "What is the Loneliest City." What is interesting to note is that 1/3 of the population of New York city, a bustling city, live alone, suggesting that these people are isolated from one another, choosing their own company than that of others. I myself personally do not enjoy venturing to places such as Sydney, where you never feel connected to the thirty other people that wait with you at the crossings. However, living in an area like Wollongong, you can not go to the shops without bumping into someone you know, and the associations which can be made with the simple drop of a name make me feel connected to everyone I meet.

Joel Keen said : Guest Report 2 years ago

When examining the origins of ‘government sponsored sprawl’, there is an interesting correlation between politics and policy and private agendas. As Roger has mentioned, to understand alienation facilitated by urban living, there must be a comprehension of the nuances between different cities. An understanding of the history how those cities came to be as they are today helps frame that comprehension. With policy, including tax-support, facilitating a shift from trams and trains to cars and the ebb and flow of the car/city relationship driving city planning, creating sprawl and the increased need for cars, the political agenda is evident. It is in realising that private interests, both corporate and individual played an unrivalled role in forcing policy to mirror the economic interests of the elite. Benjamin Ross, describing the initial stages of government sponsored sprawl, highlights that names still well known today, such as Du Pont and Goodrich played highly influential roles in both outlining the needs for the automobile industry to be the dominant mode of transport, looking to the future and corporate giants with obvious economic interests controlled committees and funded research used to push car-friendly policy to the forefront. Besides the obvious economic benefits/repercussions - depending on your perspective - this type of private influence over public resource distribution and societal infrastructure also crosses over into division and consequently, alienation within cities. Despite anti-segregation laws, cities were divided – both figuratively and literally - on issues such as race, often due to commercial reasons such as insurance and house pricing. The question must be raised that if these private interests - unrivaled in their political influence and rarely covert about their racial and class based prejudices - were not permitted to figure so heavily in social and physical construction of our cities, laying a foundation of exclusion and division, would we experience the same emotional extremes and alienation due to city living today? #S208UOW17 #tut9 #Mon1630

Joel Keen said : Guest Report 2 years ago

When examining the origins of ‘government sponsored sprawl’, there is an interesting correlation between politics and policy and private agendas. As Roger has mentioned, to understand alienation facilitated by urban living, there must be a comprehension of the nuances between different cities. An understanding of the history how those cities came to be as they are today helps frame that comprehension. With policy, including tax-support, facilitating a shift from trams and trains to cars and the ebb and flow of the car/city relationship driving city planning, creating sprawl and the increased need for cars, the political agenda is evident. It is in realising that private interests, both corporate and individual played an unrivalled role in forcing policy to mirror the economic interests of the elite. Benjamin Ross, describing the initial stages of government sponsored sprawl, highlights that names still well known today, such as Du Pont and Goodrich played highly influential roles in both outlining the needs for the automobile industry to be the dominant mode of transport, looking to the future and corporate giants with obvious economic interests controlled committees and funded research used to push car-friendly policy to the forefront. Besides the obvious economic benefits/repercussions - depending on your perspective - this type of private influence over public resource distribution and societal infrastructure also crosses over into division and consequently, alienation within cities. Despite anti-segregation laws, cities were divided – both figuratively and literally - on issues such as race, often due to commercial reasons such as insurance and house pricing. The question must be raised that if these private interests - unrivaled in their political influence and rarely covert about their racial and class based prejudices - were not permitted to figure so heavily in social and physical construction of our cities, laying a foundation of exclusion and division, would we experience the same emotional extremes and alienation due to city living today?

Michaela Matthews said : Guest Report 2 years ago

There is definitely an alienating nature of the city that I think almost every individual has experienced and does experience. Simmer suggests (in Metropolis and Mental Life ) that the way that we communicate in the city environment is through money and calculation for example Roger said in the lecture, time is important you cant be late. If your late to meetings or events, it says something about who you are and will impact on how others perceive you. Whereas in the suburbs punctuality is a bit more lenient. I know that when I’m in the city, I keep to myself, I don’t tend to acknowledge what is going on around me. I put it this way if I ever did do anything embarrassing it wouldn't worry me very much because I don’t associate with these people and it is likely never see them again. I’m from the Sutherland Shire, and there’s a joke that once you leave the shire you need a passport, because no on ever really ventures out into the city area. On the rare occasion that I do go to the city, I do feel isolated and out of place, there are men and women dressed in their work suits and there are these high rise buildings on every corner blocking out the sunshine, making it seem like a dark, alienating place. Whereas if I were in the Shire, I would walk out of the house in anything I wanted, and guarantee myself that I would see someone I know. Cars have created isolation, by the time you're 16 you can begin to learn to start driving, and a year later you are on your own with your own freedom. You purchase a car, it becomes an integral part of your daily life, helping you accomplish all your tasks and responsibilities. Wait and Harada (2012) suggest that a car is an identity. I, personally would much rather drive to Uni then catch public transport, I’d rather sit by myself in a car for 50 minutes than sit on a train with strangers. Cars are defiantly a product of social alienation, but even on public transport, I notice that people, including myself, still ignore each other and are focused on their devices, because it’s easier to not have to socialise and we now have that choice. #SOC208UOW17 #tut9 #mon1130

Holly Mayo said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I think that Simmel captures what living in a modern city it when he states "The deepest problems in modern life flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence"; the reason I believe that this captures modern life in the world we are living in today is because today w e have an unsocial world, less people are close friends with their neighbours, more often than not they do not even know them. With the increased population in areas which were not long ago 'small towns' i would now classify as a highly populated city with its medium to high density living letting it loose that feel. Places like this no longer have that town feel where everybody knows each other but now a more excluding and lonely sense, more like the traditional city feel of being unsocial. #SOC208UOW2017 #TUT9 #MON4.30

Jack Foulger said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I find it interesting how Australia is one of the first countries in the world to go from having walkable cities to having driveable cities due to the increased popularity of the automobile. I believe this to be incredibly relevant, especially based on my own experience as I know that where I reside, many people are moving into my street that work in the city yet find it far too expensive to live there, so instead elect to live out of the city and use a car as a means of transport to work each day. Evidently it is cheaper to live outside of our cities and commute everyday rather than own or rent a property within the city and be closer to work. We see areas such as Wollongong increasing in size and population due to the increased number of people's making the move out of the city down the coast, with new estates and essentially towns 'popping up' regularly. This suburban sprawl confirming the idea of a larger city expanding and connecting with smaller suburban areas. It is crazy to think of just how much evidence I have witnessed of this suburban sprawl and expansion into Wollongong throughout my 22 years of life, based on the growing trends, within another 20 years time, the outcome could potentially be mind blowing with the Wollongong region perhaps finally being connected to the Sydney city! #S208UOW2017 #TUT9 #MON1130

Justin Luzuriaga - @justinluzuriaga said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I agree with your points on individual isolation within the bustling streets of Sydney, and also think a large contributing factor would be the nature of work and schedules that predominately exists for individuals in these cities. Individuals have become consumed in the nature work, and thus are focused on time constraints and getting from point A to B. However, I think it’s important to recognise the distinction between ‘loneliness’ and ‘alone’ (as mentioned in Roger’s tweet for this week), as sociologist Eric Klinenberg writes, “research shows that it’s the quality, not the quantity of social interactions that best predicts loneliness”. So while we may observe ‘loneliness’ and ‘isolation’, an individual could in fact be entirely content with their social relations in the city. #SOC208UOW17 #Tut9 #Mon1130

Justin Luzuriaga - @justinluzuriaga said : Guest Report 2 years ago

While I agree with you points regarding the use/ownership of cars, a rise in public transport to me is not a sufficient incentive to make new things such as the light rail – I say this in reference to Sydney’s CBD and south-east light rail construction. While Premier Mike Baird stated, “If there’s a small tree … we’re going to replace it with two trees, a medium sized tree with four trees and a large tree with eight”. I can’t help but consider what we are/should be giving precedence to, new infrastructure to support the transport within a city or the historical value of trees (planted in 1917 to commemorate our ANZACs). What do/should individuals value more in the cities that they live in? Could this (in a sense) be another attempt of the rejection and eradication of the old in favour of the new? #SOC208UOW17 #Tut9 #Mon1130

Dylan Le @Ssodiumm said : Guest Report 2 years ago

#Mon1630 #Tut9 #S208UOW17

Michaela Matthews said : Guest Report 2 years ago


Kiosha Gardner @kiosha839 said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I agree, We are all walking around with our 'blinkers' on and our guards up, I think this is the same but to a lesser extent in many suburban environments as well. I do believe that the city can be a lonely place but we do not seem to be making a conscious effort to over come this, most likely because we are so caught up in time, the notion of being on time and making almost every minute of our day productive. YES! I had not thought about how our mobile devices contribute to this. We do our best to avoid face to face interactions with strangers but we are happy to look at the Facebook or Instagram profile of a complete stranger.

Emily Farrugia @emilyfarrugia4 said : Guest Report 2 years ago

Your points capture my feelings perfectly, I've no clue who my neighbours are and we dont have a community type feel at all.. I find even in the suburbs everyone sticks to what they know and who they know and if they are not somewhere they are comfortable they stick their heads into technology.. Isolation is much more prevalent in todays world I think!

Emily Farrugia @emilyfarrugia4 said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I definitely agree with you, cars increase a person's isolation to the people around them

Emily Farrugia @emilyfarrugia4 said : Guest Report 2 years ago

The isolation within cities today is a huge contributor to loneliness within individuals. When we walk along the busy and ever bustling streets of Sydney, or even wider and thinking about overseas cities, like new york. People do not take time to notice another, they are so determined to get to their next point they have no clue who is around them, this is the arising issue affecting loneliness today. I feel a factor contributing highly to this is technology, when we walk around these busy cities all you see is people on their phones, rarely looking up to see where they are going or who is around them. Even if they are walking in a group with colleagues or friends they are on their phones, reinforcing the loneliness cities provide, as you can be with people but not really with them. For me I feel today's society has made it somewhat acceptable to see a stranger in the street and instead of greeting them with a hello or small gesture, it is okay for us to put our heads down and keep walking. #S208UOW17 #tut9 #Mon11:30

Oliver Baldwin said : Guest Report 2 years ago

The decline of social capital has become a major concern for many cities around the world. More and more are we seeing that people are becoming isolated in cities where technically they should have many connections and friendship groups due to the large population. Why is this? Modern day urban design, along with modern day patterns of life are contributing to declining social capital. Our cities have been designed around cars rather than people. To see examples of this we can compare most European cities to Australian and U.S cities. In Europe, the major centres are mainly accessible by walking, or one or two stops on public transport. Whereas in much of Australian and U.S cities the main mode of transport is the car. One of many reasons that people choose a car over public transport is that not only does a car provide a form of transportation, but a representation of one’s identity and personality. It can also be used as a status symbol to demonstrate wealth.

Kiosha Gardner @kiosha839 said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I feel that many of us still hold these traditional views of the suburbs as a place of social connection and the city as this place of alienation. It is as if we see the two as polar opposites: The city – individual, loud, time dependant, difference everywhere we look, alienating, lonely, expensive, overwhelming and chaotic. The suburbs - family orientated, social, relaxed, homogeneous, familiar, quiet, orderly and neighbourly. Prior to reading 'Suburbanism as a Way of Life, Slight Return' by Alan Walks I understood the relationship between the suburban and the urban as something that was in opposition. However, Walks’ suggests that suburbanism is an inherent aspect of urbanism; that the there is a distinct difference, yet, no clear boundaries between the two. He uses a dialectical approach, to explain the constant state of tension and the synthesis of the two. The synthesis of urbanism and suburbanism allows for urbanism to become a productive force which alters spacial and social relations creating a variety of new urban and suburban environments. I began to think about the area in which I live. I live in a small outer suburb which is well established. In theory this suburb should be an environment whose values are based on social connection, neighborliness and communalism, but this is not my experience. We do not have a lot to do with our neighbors apart from saying hello when our paths cross, we don’t engage in anything more than small talk when we visit the local corner store and we don’t use any of the communal spaces like the local park. I wouldn't go as far as saying that our suburban environment is lonely, but it is definitely one where we are more concerned with superficial social connections then the closer relationships associated with the traditional suburbs. This relationship between urbanism and suburbanism is ever-changing. It would appear that there is no longer a stark divide between the urban and the suburban, instead, the boundaries that we though existed have now blurred allowing for a multitude of urban and suburban experiences.

Kristy Iervasi said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I have to agree with the fact that cars are making us more isolated and having negative effects on our mental health. As Newman (2012) explains the increase in reliance of cars to get everywhere increases unwanted health concerns such as obesity, depression, reduced daily exercise and isolation. Not only that is the stress that comes with the traffic, car maintenance and the price of owning a car. I found it interesting that in Australia the decline in care use and rise in public transport has risen. Which is just another incentive to make things such as the light rail. In saying that tho, with light rails and better public transport I don't think this would have such a dramatic difference in social disconnect as people still keep to themselves on public transport. I think years ago when cities weren't so populated people were more connected as there wasn't as many people, you knew your neighbour and going and playing in the park was a lot safer. After speaking to my parents when they were younger the streets were so safe they never even locked their cars. So with the fear of the unknown and the sheer diversity of cities these days trying to make places like Sydney and Melbourne more social inclusive is a lot harder than simply adding in better transport. However in saying that by implementing other ideas to create social and sustainable communities it might decrease social isolation, but I feel like it might just be too far gone now. #S208UOW17 #tut9 #Mon4:30

Morgan Wilson - @mw495 said : Guest Report 2 years ago

#Mon1130 #Tut9

Morgan Wilson - @mw495 said : Guest Report 2 years ago

I agree that cities can be extremely alienating and lead to such cases of loneliness that 'rent a cuddle' becomes useful. It is common for me to think 'no one will recognise me' when I am out in Sydney when I comes to appearance and behaviour. However, I think we all put in a lot of effort into dressing nice and appearing good even though people that pass us won't even give us a second though. I would argue that this could also make feelings of loneliness even worse. However, as Roger states, the degree and extent vary from city to city as not one city is the same as the other. To relate this topic but to previous lectures, I would go even further and suggest that feelings of alienation in cities differs within cities themselves. For example, in my local area I have the familiar strangers that I interact with frequently but don't know their names as well as others who I do. If I travel only a suburb away though, this is not the case and I become a complete stranger and feel alienated. I think a lot of factors contribute to alienation both personal and structural but as city populations steadily increase we are all becoming just another nameless face.

Dylan Le @Ssodiumm said : Guest Report 2 years ago

It is true that the development of the cities have caused large disruption in human's well being especially when it comes to human's mental state. Not being able to connect to the society you are living in can caused negative effect on citizen's life, since human is a social being. Though not experiencing the same experience in Hanoi, i do feel very isolated when I walked the street of either Sydney or Wollogong. One of the cause of the change is because the mobility, there are not many places you can go without a car anywhere in Australia, and since you have to rely on puplic transport for getting places, you are heavily relied on their schedules, which a lot of time could reduce or even prevent you from experiencing connection. Though I couldn't say for every people who are living in Australia since I'm not an Australian myself, taking cultural background into consideration, I could say for sure that this is also an issue for a lot of modern/post-modern city around the world. Especially when surburban mansions/houses trend is starting to taking over developing country, commuting to the center of culture, recreation and business almost seems like a burden to many surburb households and obviously it is making living anywhere sounds similar to gamble. I believe that it is possible to grow business/economy along with human's well-being. It is time that city planners start to ask sociologists on ways to build a "healthy" living life-style.

Suzanne Whitehead said : Guest Report 2 years ago

In this weeks lecture I was surprised, but at the same time not, by the statics displaying significantly higher levels of loneliness experienced by people living in big cities compared to smaller communities. The lecture also revealed big city dwellers in general have far more negative emotions. George Simmel’s attempted to explain why individuals feel this way in his article ‘Metropolis and Mental Life’ (1903). The paper suggested the nature of cities (high money flow and greater autonomy/opportunities) make people more ‘blasé’; therefore detaching individual’s from their feeling and hence conjuring a more socially isolated community. The lecture also touched on how sprawling city structures also don’t help this situation - it doesn’t encourage a common social space for people to interact, further fostering a more secluded environment. Having been born and raised in Sydney’s northern suburbs and now lived in Wollongong for 2 years, I feel I can relate to this topic. I agree with Simmel’s theory more than the concept of a sprawling city, as to why people in places like Sydney for example experience higher levels of negative emotions. In Sydney’s CBD and suburbs I feel there are far more places (cafes, restaurants, parks, shopping centres) and better public transport, making it easier to meet up and socialise. In extension to Simmel’s ideas, I believe having to share space with the mass number of people in a big city is why individuals living in these areas in general feel more het up - having an impact on their mental health and therefore making people less social.

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