Streets, Skyscrapers, and Slums: The City in Social, Cultural, and Historical Context

Essay by FableUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, February 2012

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Streets, Skyscrapers, and Slums: The City in Social, Cultural, and Historical Context

Word Count: 3273 (excl. indented quotes)

Critically analyse the view that the contemporary city is a space of barely contained chaos, conflict, and violence through cultural representations of the city including film, television, and music.

I aim to critically analyze specific instances of Western culture, with the intention of developing a sound understanding of the ways in which subcultures and pockets of society have, throughout history, consistently and dramatically represented their lives within the city through cultural mediums. These can include the darkest fears over psychological unrest, their fellow neighbor or the 'paranormal unknown' in the ever-expanding horror novel and movie industries, or the often anxious, concerned, yet violent outcries of American ghetto society; consisting of the uprising of politically motivated hip-hop, and more recently - 'gangsta rap' which reverberates, yet drives the fears of the average ghetto dweller, and offers appealing yet realistically unachievable dreams of wealth and fame, which could idealistically pay for an escape from such a harsh and threatening environment.

Early literature such as the escapades of 'Pip' in the novel Great Expectations (Dickens, 1992) also follows this expressive trend, offering an insightful depiction of the fears and typical composure of a working class young man in early 19th century Kent, England; observing his development into that of respected gentleman status, through a gradual class transition. This novel articulates Pip's susceptibility to the wealthier members of society in the city whilst he's young and poor, and then contrasts this with the way he snobbishly treats the poor once he's becomes an 'gentleman' later in the novel, depicting a society rife with classism; the control of the bourgeoisie over the less fortunate. This especially manifests itself within 'Miss Havisham's' cruel nature, and her...