On June 19, 2016 the Cleveland Cavalier won the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) championship. I like millions of others was emotionally moved by the post-game celebration. The Cavalier’s star, LeBron James was in tears as he said what winning the championship meant not only to him and his team, but also to the city of Cleveland. The video presentation shifted from the celebration on the basketball floor to local venues in Cleveland where fans voiced their emotional approval of the win. Cleveland last won a professional sports championship in 1964 and for these fans a new era for the city has begun. In a chapter in Experiencing Cities 3e, I devote considerable attention to the importance of sports as sources of community activity and community identification. Sports, with particular focus on basketball as a “city game” are seen as an integral component of urban culture and contributing to the urban economy.
The next day, June 20, was World Refugee Day. There are an estimated 65 million people migrating from one locale to another, from one city to another, from one country to another, and from one continent to another to escape war zones and for various other reasons. The world is changing and cities are where most of these changes are occurring and where, for the first time in history, more than half the world’s inhabitants live. For many, the consequent results of this migration represents the potential for new urban ways of life that will bring great benefits to both the migrants and to the existing city residents; for others their old ways of life are seen to be threatened and diminished. This has become a major political concern reflected in many European countries, and most recently in the Brexit issue in Great Britain and in the presidential political campaign in the United States.
I was and am a “news junkie” and a day does not go by when I don’t read a newspaper, watch a news broadcast, or experience the vast information that is provided by so many sources on the Internet. To broaden my own understanding of the world it was and is necessary to experience it. From my earliest memories, family, friends, and neighbors were connected to community life within the geographical boundaries of the city. Yet, I was also constantly enamored with leaving my neighborhood and going to “the city” and witnessing a “world of strangers.” I, too, was a “walker in the city,” and I delighted in the sounds and sights of “downtown’s” myriad urban activities. In Experiencing Cities 3e, I hope to kindle with its reader’s similar enthusiasms and an inquiring spirit about the urban experience. I also want to help them to understand the nature and detail of how people experience and give meaning to their lives as urbanites and suburbanites.
As I wrote the book, I was constantly updating and integrating current events taking place globally in metropolitan areas to the theoretical and analytical contents of chapters in the text. The aim was to actively engage the reader in their own involvement with the subject matter. I have incorporated experiential activities interspersed in strategic places in each chapter. Each activity asks the reader to experience an aspect of cities that pertain to the concept under discussion. By carrying out these activities, readers will turn the city where they live, and/or cities they can virtually visit by using news sources including the Internet, into a living laboratory for investigating sociological concepts in real life. I hope to kindle similar enthusiasms and an inquiring spirit about the urban experience with its readers.
In Experiencing Cities 3e, I seek to interweave my own urban experiences- and interests with a sociological perspective derived from the Chicago School of Sociology and extended to a symbolic interaction social psychological viewpoint that is also integrated with an examination of social organization, social change, stratification, and power in the urban context informed by political economy. My aim is to have the reader share and use my sociological imagination with their own in understanding the contemporary urban world and the future of cities.
Mark Hutter is a Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Rowan University, USA. He is also the Vice-President of the Committee on Family Relations (RC06) of the International Sociological Association (ISA).
This extraordinary text for undergraduate urban students is a reflection of Mark Hutter’s academic interests in urban sociology and his life-long passion for experiencing city life. His deep academic roots in the Chicago School of Sociology help inform and appreciate the variety of urban structures…
Paperback – 2015-12-16
The Metropolis and Modern Life