Post-modern cities in democratic slavery

Modernism, post-modernism, x or z-modernism, all terminologies that were surfaced to describe existing, new, or upcoming movements inside an époque of constant and unprecedented transformations. Cities are the living organisms that nurture these notions and convert them into systematic actions. Every city is composed by its societal, economic, environmental and cultural aspects and each aspect is linked to each other to create unique multifaceted networks. The main drivers of a city are the citizens whose microworld consists of individual ideologies and behaviours that exist inside a common norm.

In an urban post-modern governmental context, the public and private sector is working in partnership and the economy aims in niche markets, globalisation and it is consumption oriented. As cities strive to increase their attractiveness they are producers of social fragmented spaces and on a citizenship level this fragmentation is leading towards a micro-scale segregation within a plasmatic homogeneity. In a stable normal situation the city lifestyle will continue to develop and grow with all its newly accepted or non-accepted inputs.

What happens though to cities where the crisis mode has reached its peak? We are referring to the recent financial crisis that has stricken many countries all over the world and subsequently hundreds of city hubs the past years. If we are leaving in the so called ‘Pick and Mix’ society that we freely pick our lifestyle and life course from a wider variety of options with no longer societal divisions along class-gender or ethnic lines then why now more than ever there is a higher increase of social polarisation within cities? Postmodernity brought along the distinction of groups based on their consumption patterns. This is probably the new transmutation of class hierarchy and discrimination of classes into the era of ‘hyper reality’ and cultural hybridity.

Living inside a democratic frame, where a few of its elements are the protection of human rights of all citizens and the rule of law in which laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens, it seems that the notions of equality, especially when we are talking about access in opportunities and social well-being, are lacerated. In a city where the share of human capital is greater than the actual demand and with the excuse of a crisis status those democratic principles are detoured or even shattered by the individuals and the service providers because of the need for social security and livelihood preservation. Thus, it would not be irrational to add aside the aspect of a High degree of social polarisation in a postmodern society the element of High degree of social exploitation.

Nowadays, when socio-economic situations and identities are becoming more transitory and ephemeral, there is the necessity to understand the space in which social identities are built and to solve the difficulties when it comes to explaining the many discrepancies in the practices, strategies and motivations, we need to understand the integration of the individual micro-scaled social processes towards the socio-economic course that is prevailing inside a city’s complex interrelations.

By Despoina Kanteler



L. Mendes. 2011. Postmodern City, Gentrification and the Social Production of Fragmented Space. CIDADES, Comunidades e Territórios


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