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The Uses of Disorder: Personal Identity and City Life Paperback – August 17, 1992
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The result: people in affluent, technological societies are frozen in an adolescent stage of development, unable to see each other as individuals behind the preconceived abstractions of that stage. They are disinclined to get involved in their communities, except to lash out in violent reaction against feared outsiders.
Equally intriguing, but less convincing, is the proposed solution: destroy the myths of purified community. Destroy them by designing our cities in such a way that they force diverse people to encounter one another under conditions of conflict. Reduce the municipal bureaucracy's control of schooling and zoning. Stop central planning of land use in advance. Increase the density of urban environments; integrate socioeconomic and racial groups.Read more ›
In the second part, he comes up with a muddy and rather conflicted vision of a rebirth of city life based on a sort of half-anarchism not worthy of the name. His proposals, while showing a healthy respect for diversity and local control, would have benefited from a clearer understanding of the history of utopian anarchist thought. As it is, his description of anarchism as purely nihilistic and anti-urban is spotty and misleading, and his proposals lack clarity in their outcomes and implementations.
For a more practical reformist proposal for the re-invigoration of urban community based partly on Sennett's critiques of suburbia, see Gerald Frug's excellent recent book 'City Making'. For clearer visions of possible anarchist societies, see the works of Kropotkin, Pannekoek, Murray Bookchin and Ken Knabb.