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Streets, Skyscrapers, And Slums: The City In Social, Cultural, And Historical Context

4812 words - 19 pages

Streets, Skyscrapers, and Slums: The City in Social, Cultural, and Historical ContextWord 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 perceived right to manipulate the young, naïve and inferior Pip character.Therefore, the common themes of cultural representations within the city are what I aim to shed light upon and further understand within my study. The ability to ingest and assimilate a specific way of living or a subculture has rapidly evolved, as have all the ranges of culture that exists and can (for the majority) be accessed with a simple Google search, or by flicking through a few television channels. Even listening through an assortment of 10 broadly selected albums will reveal a plethora of diverse cultures expressing their surroundings, their habitat, and their culture in diverse ways. I want to uncover these examples and lay down the framework from which to explain these cultural and mediated manifestations of the city, which subsequently reveal and characterize our inherent fears of everyday life. Culture can simultaneously warn us of problems, and enlighten us to the unfair or optimistic aspects...

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