Urban Life and Personality
The city is a place of contrasts. Cities are centers of learning, of the arts, of science and medicine, of excitement, glamour, and “progress,” while rural areas have been charged with provincialism, superstition, ignorance, – and bigotry. Cities are also centers of vice arid crime, of frivolous extravagance: of unbridled self-indulgence, and of insincere pretension. In short, the city reveals in vivid contrast most of the dominant characteristics of the culture ANONYMITY. The sheer pressure of numbers makes for anonymity. Of course there are groups within which the urbanity is known as a person, but much of routine life is spent in the anonymous crowd-The Lonely Crowd of David Riemann . The heterogeneity of city life, with its mixture of people of all races, creeds, classes, occupations, and ethnic origins heightens this sense of a anonymity.Differing interests separate people from any intimate acquaintance with others whom they meet in passing. In the skid rows are the extremes of urban anonymity-the forgotten men and women'” of obscure past and uncertain turret. They exist outside the’ pale of organize~d conventional living, their lives centered in the rooming- or flophouse,’ the cheap tavern, and perhaps the rescue, mission. Here deviants may cluster and pursue their deviation with a minimum of interference. They are the, defeated refuse of our social system, resigned, and often contented with a social role which demands little and offers little [Bogue, 1963; Wallace, 1965, 19681 Vander 1973; Bloomberg , 1978; Sheeny, 1979 is a product of anonymity, personality, and heterogeneity. Ethnic differences are one form ,of heterogeneity, dividing people into groups which often dislike or disdain one another.
But occupational differences may be even more important sources of social distance. Unlike the agricultural community, the ‘city has no common occupational focus which serves as a common interest for urbanizes. Thus, most of the people whom one “meets”in the course of a day-neighbors, passersby, salespersons, parking lot attendants, elevator passengers–are persons with whom one has no enduring interest and only the most fleeting
contact. The city is a place of outward conformity and inner reservations, of “front” and conspicuous consumption, of “keeping tip with ‘the Joneses.” When people cannot know us .