Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Claim

Susan Bickford's article "Constructing Inequality" needs to be read slowly, like poetry, to absorb its complexity (see my first post on "how to read"). If you blaze through it, you get the general overview of someone who's cranky and oppositional. We need to understand what task she's set out for herself here in order to be able to evaluate how well she's done it.

Fortunately, she's made that task very apparent for us, on the second page of her paper :

"In this essay, I argue that the environment of our urban and suburban lives provides a hostile environment for the development of democratic imagination and participation" (Bickford, 356).

This is a rich statement. "The environment of our urban and suburban lives" indicates that she's going to analyze the intersections between our places and our ways of living. "Hostile" indicates that she's going to take a strong stand (she could have used words like "difficult" or "unproductive"). She goes beyond saying that the environment makes it difficult to be citizens, and claims that the environment makes it difficult to even think like citizens ("democratic imagination"). And by using the word "development," she's indicating that she believes that our built environment is hostile to our growth, and keeps us in an artificially undeveloped state of civic engagement and thinking.

But you can't see all that at 70 miles an hour. This essay is like a painting that can be examined for hours; I daresay, it's something like a good building.

5 comments:

Kyle Basilius said...

Thanks for the heads up...I am beginning the read...have my pen and paper ready to take notes...nice and slooooowww...

Karrick said...

This is a general comment on the use of these blogs. Our instruction is to use our own blogs to document our journey, fulfill our assignments etc. The problem though is that it is tedious to isolate and maintain conversations in regards to our course work when the conversations regarding a single assignment are spread throughout many blogs... Am I missing something?

Kyle Basilius said...

i see your point, but this allows for everyone to be actively involved in each others blogs and progress. As each person proposes thoughts and ideas on assignments there are going to be comments on each of those various positions even if they all pertain to the same assignment. It is just up to us to keep checking in with everyone's blogs.

rbutera said...

I would agree with you here Kyle. I think the individual blog format is an interesting and provacative tool for these discussions. It is a very "non-linear" methodology. I must admit that for the past couple of days I have felt a bit overwhelmed bythe task at hand. But as I dive into the blogs I find that I am already starting to think and process ideas in a new manner.

peterjames said...

concerning Herb's comment about reading slowly, I agree that there is a lot more substance to Bickfords contentions than just a "cranky" or "oppositional" point of view......but, so far, I stand by what I said in my individual post, which is that the built environment is a reflection of broader societal issues.....it is a tangible symptom of a pre-existing condition.....

On another note, concerning Karricks jan 3rd, 6:58pm post, it does seem like an information overload trying to navigate through all of these different blogs, as well as blackboard, to try an keep abreast of all of the different posts/discussions/assignments .....I am just hoping that as things progress, we will all find our groove......heres hoping!!!