In Chapter 8 of section 3 of his book The City of Rhetoric, David Fleming describes how segregation and the location of specific demographics of populations matter in the realm of public discourse. Earlier in the text the author breaks down exactly how rhetoric functions in public discourse, human landscape, and what environments mean to the residents; in this part of the text Fleming analyze’s what specific populations’ interact mean to the public discourse as well as how they are treated in the metropolitan environment.
Fleming poses the thought to the reader that there are alternatives to the current state of these populations in cities that would encourage a healthier relationship, better interaction, and equality among everyone in these cities. Fleming addresses the way to these alternatives by discussing in detail three concepts, the first being the contingency in a variety of factors that rhetoric has on its environment and the development of the space it is in. Secondly, the way civic power and habits are going to effected by a place is going to matter most at the extremes of a space, so the most favored groups and least favored group in the environment. Thirdly, the effects of an environment change throughout am individual’s lifetime. For these three reasons, Fleming suggests leaving behind the idea that manipulation of our environment is what needs to be done to improve the non linear treatment and inequality but rather address the responsibility and requirement of cultural competency that comes with design and architecture in sociospatial aspects and how this effects human behavior. Fleming provides the example of poverty, it is not caused by poor people themselves but the environments in which they live lead to terrible grades of schools and housing, poor job opportunities and ridiculously high crime rates. These places are neglected and devalued and the citizens of this environment mirror such a space in their behavior and Fleming refers to this as Gunnar Myrdal’s phrase of “cumulative causation”, the environment is internalized and further displayed in social norms of the environment and civic behavior, i.e., the problems that kids in these areas come to school with make school a troubled place, and a troubled school contributes to the issue of the environment. (Fleming, 194) Fleming acknowledges that the environments in which we live, learn and grow up in effect human behavior and these environments are non-linear and dynamic to specific groups of people such people in poverty or area’s of Chicago like Cabrini Green.
Evidently so our perspective, interpretation and behavior to our environment is heavily determined on how we encounter the things and our environment as well as the relationship we have with our environment, this is what varies between people based upon socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexuality, and other identities. In this section Fleming is challenging us to not try to manipulate our environment but address the way our environment influences our behavior and particularly behavior of the those that are not favored nor supported by the environment even if we are.