The following questions may help guide you in your responses. You have no obligation to answer them if you would rather simply reflect on things that you found interesting or confusing in the readings. You definitely have no obligation to answer all of these questions, so if you do decide to use them, just choose one or two to get you started:
- Simmel describes a “blasé” attitude unique to urban life. This attitude is a necessary psychological adaptation to the social conditions of the city. Do you agree with this assessment of the mind of the city-dweller? Why or why not?
- Extending his critique of city life, Simmel moves on to discuss a behavioral tendency of city-dwellers to behave with “reserve” toward each other. Again, he suggests that this is an adaptation to the unique conditions of life in modern cities. Can you think of examples that support his argument? Can you think of examples that contradict it?
- Wirth puts together a pretty harsh critique of urban society in the paragraph in the section titled DENSITY. Do you see examples in contemporary New York City that support what he’s saying? Or do you see examples to the contrary? Be specific.
- Toward the end of the article, Wirth seems to imply that “personal disorganization, mental breakdown, suicide, delinquency, crime, corruption and disorder” are likely to be more common in cities because voluntary associations and secondary ties (casual friends and associates rather than close friends and family) provide the only means of social control in cities. Does this sound right? Are there other reasons why social disorder would be more common in cities?