A CRITIQUE OF POST-MODERN URBANISM
“One of the greatest ironies in geographical scholarship is
that good criticism remains an exceedingly scarce resource.” -Michael Dear
INTRODUCTION: This part of present
paper will identify and evaluate the general
character of the post-modernism.
Dear and Flusty’s key argument is that most
20th-century urban analyses have been predicated on the Chicago School’s model
of concentric rings. By synthesizing recent studies on the contemporary form of
Southern California urbanism, they aim to develop a new concept, called
postmodern urbanism, under the banner of the Los Angeles School of centre less
“keno” capitalism. The fundamental features of the Los Angeles model include a
global-local connection, a ubiquitous social polarization, and a re-territorialization
of the urban process in which the hinterland organizes the center.
COMPARISION AND ANALYSIS OF THE MAIN CONCEPT OF POST-MODENISM: This part will focus on post-modern concepts with Flusy and
Dear”s vision and the lenses through which others see and understand.
serious problem of the postmodern urbanism thesis is that the argument is
premised on the dubious assumption that our society has been transformed and
has moved from a modern epoch to a postmodern epoch—an unproven argument that
has been hotly contested among social scientists, as the authors acknowledge in
their first footnote. Following this assumption, the authors present only those
studies that seem to support their argument. For example, that the Los Angeles
School has emerged and replaced the Chicago School of urban studies. One can
get the impression that there has been a huge vacuum in urban research between
the development of the Chicago School in the 1920s and the Los Angeles School
in the 1990s but I believe that no meaningful or significant urban studies were
conducted in the intermediate years. I believe that this characterization of
the urban literature is neither fair nor accurate. Ironically, the three
pillars used by the authors to construct their postmodern urbanism—the
world-city hypothesis, the dual-city theory, and the edge-city model—are
concepts that emerged in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
example, the global-local connection thesis is built on what economist Paul
Krugman has called pop internationalism (Krugman, 1997). New trade theories
based on increasing returns (rather than comparative advantages) have clarified
many of the misperceptions of the globalization process—for example, recent research
findings revealing that globalization has minimal impact on local employment
(Krugman, 1998). No wonder Krugman refers to many of the global-local
connection arguments based on pop internationalism as “globaloney” (Krugman,
1998). Yet another example is Joel Garreau’s edge-city model, which Dear and
Flusty employ to support their idea of centerless keno capitalism. Although
Garreau captured some interesting characteristics of urban development in the
United States, his journalist’s intuition and speculation have not stood up to
scholarly scrutiny. Garreau’s ideas have been discredited by most urban
scholars. According to Beauregard (1995), the edge-city thesis is a fatally
flawed rhetorical move to mitigate the urban sting of society’s contradictions.
Abbott (1993) regarded edge-city as an updated version of suburban mythmaking.
The fatal flaw of looking at urban development via the edge-city lens is that
it tends to lead us WHY POSTMODERN URBANISM IS A DEAD END 405 to “take the
shell for the whole oyster.” Even Melvin Webber, one of the earliest urban
scholars to speculate about the emergence of a post-city age (Webber, 1963,
1968), has admitted that cities are tenacious and that his previous
speculations have not obtained strong empirical support because of the
persisting power of propinquity (Rusk, 1995; Webber, 1996). If Dear and Flusty
had paid attention to numerous studies of recent trends in the gentrification
of American cities (Smith, 1996), they would not have proclaimed the argument
that the hinterland organizes the center in a centerless keno capitalism. How
does the hinterland organize the center that does not exist? And if the center
does not exist, do Dear and Flusty mean to imply that gentrification is a myth?
DETERMINATION – IS THE RESULTS OR SOLUTIONS TO THE SPECIFIC
PROBLEM LOGICALLY FOLLOW FROM THE PREMISES AND CONCEPTS OF POST-MODERNISM AS
ADVOCATED BY DEAR AND FLUSTY:
part determination of problematic area and their probable solutions by critique
of Post-modernism theory will be focused.
None of the
so-called achievements of postmodern geography documented by Dear (1994a) will
survive a reality check. Most of the postmodernists’ writings are largely wrong
(although sometimes for the right reasons); most frequently, we cannot even
tell whether they are right or wrong since we are told that everything is
socially constructed. Truth is irrelevant to postmodernists. Not surprisingly,
postmodern geography has increasingly become irrelevant both socially and
intellectually. It is time to extricate ourselves from the postmodern web by
undertaking a course of intellectual self-defense. The best weapons we have for
intellectual self-defense against postmodernism are rationality, reason, and
science (Sokal and Bricmont, 1996). This self-defense is motivated not only by
love of our discipline but also, perhaps more importantly, by the search for
truth that is intellectually stimulating and socially relevant. Since most
postmodernists refuse to invoke any validation procedures to test their argument,
what they are practicing is cultism, not scholarship. It is time for us to get
back to Enlightenment ideals, to seek re-enchantment with the world, not the
word. Geographers should join the mainstream of the scientific community to
disrobe postmodernism to reveal the fundamental emptiness in its ontology,
epistemology, methodology, and sloppy ethics (Gross and Levitt, 1994; Koertge,
1997). Only then can we dismantle the postmodern illusions and superstitions
that are so detrimental to our intellectual endeavor. Only then can we
accomplish a geographic consilience (Wilson, 1998) to better understand the
fabric of reality in its whole (Deutsch, 1997).
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SUBMITTED BY: NARENDRA
VERMA /(2160400052)/MURP IInd YR.