February 11, 2017 - mh9868a
Reading Analysis 2: Fleming’s Definition of a Neighborhood
In chapter three of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming uses the idea of democracy to solve the rhetorical problem of the rhetoric of neighborhoods. In other words, he argues that a neighborhood’s residential community association (RCA) exemplifies large scale political institutions. First Fleming traces the history of neighborhoods as far back as the ancient Greeks to as recently as the mid 1900s. Then, he gives a twentieth century model from Clarence Perry’s New York City design (45). Ultimately Fleming explains that Perry’s widely popular neighborhood design would adhere to an average nuclear family, and that the ideal neighborhood would have about ten thousand citizens, an elementary school, convenience stores, and parks (46). As a result, Perry’s neighborhood model is still widely recognized today.
Fleming’s connection between political institutions and neighborhood RCAs allows hm to argue that neighborhoods are small scale democratic institutions. Actually, RCAs are democratic institutions within neighborhoods that set boundaries and rules for residents to follow (49). Also, RCA officials are elected by residents, and those elected officials make the rules and guidelines for every resident to follow. Furthermore, this idea of an organization leader creating rules for the public is just like how a mayor would make rules for a city, or how a governor would make rules for a state. Along the same lines, typical democratic politics is based on electing leader to make rules, just like an RCA. Therefore, in theory, a neighborhood with an RCA is a smaller model of a city with a mayor or a country with a president.
Fleming’s argument that a neighborhood is a small model of democratic institution is important because it describes the rhetoric of a typical neighborhood. First Fleming demonstrates his connection between typical democracy in a neighborhood by connecting RCAs to democratic institutions. To put it bluntly, his connection is important because it highlights how city design is so deeply related to politics in more than just a racial way. Thus residential and city planning is so deeply related to politics that the connection can be seen in both cities and distant residential areas.
Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany, NY, SUNY Press, 2009.