Assumption of Individualism

Assumption of Individualism


The claim that environment plays a key role in the well-being and future of an individual is constantly denied and replaced with the idea that social problems, or achievements are only individual endeavors. In his “The City of Rhetoric”, David Fleming explains that this idea is the product of a “philosophical modernism”(185). He starts out by describing that the Industrial revolution  impacted  the  view of man. It revolutionized our thinking and made us believe that man is a self-motivating, self-sufficient, self-governing. Fleming tells us that this idea of man was so mythologized that many classic novels and works of literature were built on the display of man’s self-mastery and autonomy. He goes on to explain that this thought led humans to think of home or the environment around us in a superficial context. Therefore, we started to connect with people’s motivations and ideas rather than geographical location. All this led to a “cosmopolitan” society which had mobility and change as a virtue. Along with a technological revolution which dilutes the role of space in human interaction, this long held idea of man’s autonomy becomes even more appealing. Obviously, this conclusion begs the question of: What is the environment around us if it is constantly changing and differentiating?

In Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, a story about a young boy and his endeavors highlights the idea of man’s autonomy. Throughout the story, we see countless adventures which take place in different settings that Huckleberry Finn involves himself in. What is so controversial is that Finn is a little boy who grew up to a drunkard father and a dead mom. Since he is constantly running away from his father, he has no home and goes on adventures with his friends to different towns and states. THis childhood situation idealizes the thought of man’s self-destiny; Finn, as a kid, must live and make his own choices. Finally, at the conclusion of Finn’s adventures he has an ultimate choice with staying with his relative, or conquering the world on his own. As you may have guessed, Finn does go out into the west of America and lives on his own.


Twain, Mark. HUCKLEBERRY FINN, By Mark Twain, Complete. Charles L.                           Webster And Company, 1884,                   h/76-h.htm.

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan            America. SUNY Press, 2008.

New Urbanism



The idea of creating a social mix in troubled neighborhoods with the intentions of educating, integrating, and helping the community as a whole is not what it seems. In “The City of Rhetoric”, David Fleming explains that this system, which has been implemented, is undermining and silencing the poor while celebrating the diversity that the middle class presents. He argues that the incorporation is biased, and that its fundamental design is “attracting high-end buyers and renters”(141). Fleming describes in this effort to diversify, unify, and create equality, housing authorities actually harm the minority neighborhoods they are trying to help. He even describes an interview he had with the head of a certain housing authority as the head describes an emphasis on the middle class integration into the community. The head notes that “this place will be run as a market-rate community that just happens to have public housing residents” (142). This design that housing authorities use is centered on the choice of rich people to live wherever they want. Alternatively, the authorities use the idea that the poor, poverty class do not have a choice. This creates the bias that basically explains this entire project is centered around attracting the middle class while actually ignoring and hiding the low income class.

When New York City is advertised, it  includes the high rises and narcoleptic behavior of manhattan. However, it does not include that 102 public housing projects that are scattered throughout Manhattan. It does not include that Manhattan has the most public housing in all five boroughs. People do not even know what Harlem is when they arrive in NYC. The reputation that the city boasts, with its nightlife and never ending opportunities, attracts younger, middle class white people that are encouraged to live and invest in the city. Therefore, it negates NYC’s low income residents while appealing to the pioneership of the rich people.


“New York City Housing Authority.” Wikipedia, 10 Mar. 2017. Wikipedia,                                                                                                          title=New_York_City_Housing_Authority&oldid=769540171.

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan            America. SUNY Press, 2008.

The Importance of Space

The Persistence of Space

Space plays a very important role in the lives of american citizens. I have noticed that over the years many people have deserted various no-name towns in order to create a life in big, famous cities.  In his “The City of Rhetoric”, David Fleming accurately portrays a country where citizens are valued by their job skills, job wage, and job information. This value, Fleming goes on to describe, is crucial in separating different towns, cities, or even states into a two groups: valuable spaces and devalued spaces. Fleming explains that the new world order that we live in has basically taken all the big high-skill jobs and concentrated them in command and control centers like New York, Tokyo, London, etc. He continues to explain that “”devalued spaces” spaces that are more and more isolated and separated both from each other and from the “valuable spaces””(32). More specifically, Fleming explains that the rise of concentrated areas, where legal, financial, and government work happen, has attracted young professionals. With “cultural-entertainment complexes and recently gentrified neighborhoods”(33) many traveling professionals, entrepreneurs have found means to settle down and offer their inhabited city the best in terms of their high-skill jobs. He concludes his argument with the idea that while rich and affluent communities continue to create enormous wonderful things like private shopping centers just as social spaces, while poor and middle class communities struggle to pay for a place to live.

Examples of Fleming’s idea can even be seen around the world.  According to a study done by the Human Resources for Health, “ More than 23% of America’s 771 491 physicians received their medical training outside the USA.” Their study also showed that 6% of physicians in the entire sub-saharan africa are part of the percentage mentioned earlier. You start to see that people tend to leave their homeland in order to seek better futures. Fleming’s argument is not just about the increasing spatial inequalities, but really, it’s about the importance of place and the role it plays in determining a person’s future.  

Works citied:                                                                                                                                                               Hagopian, Amy, et al. “The Migration of Physicians from Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States of America: Measures of the African Brain Drain.” Human Resources for Health, vol. 2, 2004, p. 17.


                Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. SUNY Press, 2008.