This book explores cities and urban life from the perspectives of both sociology and cultural theory. Through an interdisciplinary approach and use of case material, the book demonstrates that the "real" city of physicality and struggle and the "imagined" city of representations are entwined in the construction of urban cultures. Starting with a comparison of the rural and the urban, the book considers ways of imagining the city and of conceptualizing urban cultures. It goes on to investigate the implications of several pivotal urban and cultural trends, such as the use of the arts and local cultures in city re-imaging, and the ways in which modernism, postmodernism and globalization have shaped the built environment and the orientation of academic enquiry. Also examined is the way in which representations of the urban landscape in film, literature, art and popular texts, have informed dominant ideas about the way certain city spaces - including city centres, urban waterfronts and so-called "global cities" - should look, function and "feel".
Designed as a text for undergraduate courses in cultural studies, sociology and wider social science, this book traces the development of urban environments from the 19th century to the 21st, and illuminates the nature of urban life.
Deborah Stevenson has a PhD in Sociology and is currently Deputy Director of the Cultural Industries and Practices Research Centre at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Her books include Art and Orgnisation: Making Australian Cultural Policy (2000), Agendas in Place: Cultural Planning for Cities and Regions (1998), and Planning the 'Creative City' (forthcoming 2003)