In part three, chapter 8 of his book, City of Rhetoric author David Fleming concludes that the whole purpose of the book was to study how the circumstances in which someone grows up affects them in different ways. He describes an low-income African ghetto,an affluent white suburb,a mixed “urban village” a high-rise, an inner city housing co-op, as well as a metropolitan area, because he felt that each of these situations had a direct impact on how an individual: created and resolved conflict, their use of “public language”, and their “public argument”. Fleming also felt that it was very hard to find an “alternative” living situation where there would be a balance between “community” and “society.” He does seem to favor an urban setting because it provides a central place for both a “social scene” as well as helping an individual’s “political life”. Fleming does focus on a concept of “decentralization,” “fragmentation”, and “polarization” to describe some of the dangers of suburbs, especially describing the issue of “flight.” His main argument concerning each of these living situations was that suburbia may provide a sense of comfort for some, but is very much a “polarizing” force as it often encourages a place of homogeneity. On the other hand, the city is often devoid of diversity issues when it works out correctly, as in there is not an issue of “flight”, which he feels that some common background and goals are often the only way to allow for this diversity. Most importantly, he feels that the style of living is just as important as factors such as educational diversity, and economic factors in affecting an individual’s growth politically and socially.
Of the most important examples in his book was the Cabrini Greene housing project. It may have been in theory a good choice for a group of African-Americans to reside in a common location sharing the same “background” and “goals.” In other words, it became a “bonafide ghetto.” It had become especially run down at a point because there may have been common backgrounds together, but the economic homogeneity actually hurt the quality of the location. He also felt that the location provided the isolation that may have helped the community aspect of the situation, but not the diversity. In the context of the location being mostly white, similar issues transpired. He felt that the suburban locations were overall not very good for diversity, although though they may have allowed the community, and were isolated.
Fleming, David. “Part One: Chapter Two, The Placelessness of Political Theory” City of Rhetoric, CITY SUNY Press 2008.