The Humane City
OverviewThe great majority of people in the Western world live in cities. Yet their structure and functioning is determined by the requirements of planners, architects, venture capitalists, and bureaucrats, not the people who live in them. The explanation of this de-humanizing state of affairs is the subject of part I of `The Humane City'. The author charts the growth of cities that accompanied the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism, and highlights the power of capital to shape cities according to profit rather than people. He shows how urban buildings and public services disproportionately represent the preferences of architects, planners and administrators. In part II, John Short outlines the way forward for greater citizen participation in the planning and running of cities. He joins writers from Aristotle to Tawney and Arendt in treating people as essentially political beings, whose individual fulfilment lies in the pursuit of broader social goals. He considers whether liberal thought, from Locke in the seventeenth century, through to Hayek, Rawls and Nozick in the twentieth century has been over-concerned with individual rights. If ordinary people are to gain aesthetic and political control of their cities, he argues, the principle of consumer sovereignty must be extended to the public arena - the city dweller as the consumer of housing, schools, hospitals, public buildings and transport should choose their design, and how they are run. The author concludes by extending the principle of grass-roots democracy to the workplace. Arguing that work should be creative and fulfilling for all of the workforce, not merely a handful, he puts forward strategies to bring about greater employee participation at work, such as direct ownership of enterprises, and decentralized work practices. The book is intended for use by first year university and polytechnic students of urban geography, planning, architecture.
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