City of Rhetoric
In chapter 3.8 of David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, Mr. Fleming argues that society benefits from critically examining what usually appears innocent to us and then applying that to organize the world in a certain way to increase or decrease citizens’ opportunities. The chapter, entitled “Toward a New Sociospatial Dialectic”, begins with Fleming quickly reviewing his previous seven chapters. He considers it important to note that we have neglected to fully assimilate the youth of today with people who are unlike themselves, due to the extreme alienation of classes and races within our housing complexes. The author continues to say that this can be fixed, in part, by creating “commonplaces” for people of all classes, races, religions, etc. to come together. However, this problem persists due to the creation and separation between the urban ghettos and suburbia. These places in of themselves are often seen as opposites, yet there is also a great deal of separation within these communities, as smaller groups of like-minded people tend to come together. Attempts have been made to fix this issue, with communities such as North Town Village in Chicago. But in the end, these communities are either not large enough, filled with too many like-minded people, and/ or too far removed from the rest of America to be a true success. Here David Fleming switches to discuss how important “place” actually is upon the individual. According to him, the importance of place on one’s life has lost ground in recent years, since this material framework is looked down upon. However, Fleming argues that one’s built environment is of extreme importance and cannot be overlooked. The fact that those who are in areas of better education and social involvement have advantages that others do not is the framework for American poverty. These advantages greatly affect how successful these people turn out to be, and these advantages can be directly related to where one lives. One’s physical place of residence effects school, proximity to jobs, one’s neighbors, and one’s peers, amongst many other things. It is for this reason that Fleming feels that “over and above race, ethnicity, income, education, religion, and culture, place matters” (189). Since North America is segregated primarily by race and class, it’s important to realize that enduring poverty is caused not by the poor themselves or the culture of society, but by the very environments in which they live- yet all hope is not lost. Mr. Fleming does believe that here are ways to structure the built environment to evade this cycle of poverty, and he gets into this possibility in later chapters.
Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany, NY, SUNY Press, 2009.