A New Sociospatial Dialectic

In chapter eight of his book City of Rhetoric, David Fleming argues that different environments in which people live are a key factor in influencing individuals opportunities and thus their participation in public life.  To prove this claim, Fleming provides indirect and direct examples of where the place in which people live determines their behavior.  One example Fleming includes is proximity to jobs.  Those who are geographically close to job opportunities are more likely to be employed and keep the job.  However, research shows that “the fastest growing locations for low-skilled jobs in this country tend to be the low income adults that would benefit from them.”  A close proximity to job betters one’s opportunities and abilities to develop civic skills, however due to their location groups of people are placed at a disadvantage (187).  Fleming states that the quality and character of neighborhood schools is the most important factor for the development of civic capacities.  He supports this by saying residence patterns stratified by race and class has created inferior school systems.  This difference in quality of education for different groups of people affects the distribution of civic abilities and opportunities (189). Fleming argues that the landscape of contemporary North America is segregated by race and class.  This segregation perpetuates people’s inabilities to develop rhetorical skills and participate in civic life because there is a lack of communication between these communities.  In conclusion to his chapter Fleming calls for humans to create “strong publics” by evenly distributing opportunities into communities that are geographically disadvantaged.  Fleming claims the solution to the issues raised in this chapter is to create more commonplaces where diverse people can connect with one another (191).


Works Cited

Fleming, David. “Toward a New Sociospatial Dialectic.” City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany, NY: SUNY, 2009. 179-194. Print.

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