Effect Of Compact City On Human Culture
Culture is a combination of factors rooted in man's biological origin that drive him to communicate. Conversely, communication, which to some extent characterizes the totality of human group activities, can be used to define culture. There are aspects of culture that can enhance man's creative activity and his ability to communicate with others, and thus increase his satisfaction and fulfillment. Culture also can and does have aspects which tend to diminish man. The deleterious effects that ghetto life can have on people reminds one of a saying by Albert Schweitzer: "The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives."
In his book, The Silent Language, the anthropologist Edward T. Hall has focused on primary message systems that characterize culture. The way these aspects of culture might be affected by a Compact City environment is:
1. Interaction through language. In general, interaction
with the environment and with other forms of life is the first moving force
of all living organisms. It is hard to image that life could exist without some
form of dynamic behaviour that produces interaction between organisms and creates
irritation or stimulation. For man, his ability to communicate through abstract
linguistic symbols with others provides a powerful form of interaction. Improved
means of verbal and visual communication has proved to be both a blessing and
a curse. On the one hand it has brought information about the whole world to
one's door. On the other hand, it has created the additional problems of making
it necessary to reduce the flow of information and to screen out that which
Communication with many people simultaneously through writing, pictures, and motion pictures, or more quickly with radio or television is a reality. In future cities, however, people will also interact with various automatic machines rather than with other people, by using language suitable for such devices. This will probably profoundly affect the social structure. For example, the connection of videophones to computers can create new information sources, and these can be expected to change the way we do routine shopping. The role of secretaries in offices will change since letters will be composed on consoles, displayed, edited, and reproduced without delay.
2. Association is the bringing together of units of life to form higher and more complex units. By this process, groups, organizations, even countries, are formed in patterns of associations develop, which encompass everyone, from leader to follower. Walking instead of driving in Compact City will foster more local community association. The compactness of the city will make it possible for people to participate in a wider variety of activities that interest them.
3. Subsistence is the elaborate process, ranging from the economic life of a nation to the job of an individual, by which people obtain food and other basic needs. Different cultural habits have evolved around the purpose that we ascribe to life and the associated idea of having to work hard to earn a living. Perhaps soon it will become evident to tall that being made to grub for the basic necessities belongs to the past. Machines are already doing most of the work and people are merely button pushers. Certain fundamental jobs will remain, of course, but the concept of having to work hard to earn a basic living will become less and less true. Hence, the whole purpose of work could undergo radical change.
4. Territoriality is the assertion of possessiveness for a certain space, for certain objects, and even for life to the degree that one is possessive about one's family. Pride in development of the city could become an important manifestation of territoriality in a new city's culture.
5. Temporality is the dependence of man in all cultures upon time as it manifests itself in the cycles of the seasons, the phases of the moon, the heartbeat, the performance of tasks, and so on. Obviously, if Compact City establishes a continuous time cycle, temporality, as we know it today will be changed profoundly.
6. Learning plays a vital role as an agent of culture. It is an instrument by means of which experience and abstractions of experience are passed on between the generations. With machines doing more and more of the essential work, it is clear that in the future our population will turn to other pursuits. Of these education and research could play a dominant role not only for children but for adults as too. Computers, programmed learning, will probably be extensively used in the future for education.
7. Play is used as a technique for seeking diversity, simulated experience, competition and sport, laughter, or even as a method of hiding vulnerabilities. The decreased need to do essential work will also bring about a greater emphasis on sports, various other forms of competition of which chess is an example, as well as exhibits, theater, parties, and so forth.
8. Defense is a mean of protection against both external hostile forces and against possible threats from society and even from the self. Medicine is a form of defense, law enforcement is another, and military force is yet another. Undoubtedly the high vulnerability of modern society would be reflected in the way Compact City would seek to protect itself. Protection of facilities would of necessity take the form of back-up systems. Special repair units would be organized. The use of non-inflammable or non-toxic materials would be encouraged. Evacuation and emergency procedures would be made part of the educational process.
9. Exploitation of available resources and of other people to enhance the fulfillment of individual and group needs is characteristic of man in his effort to optimize the use of his energy and the natural resources available to him. However, a culture should not be totally judged by its ability to exploit man and matter. Some of the cultural elements mentioned above require the pursuit of other things to obtain satisfaction, such as the exploration of new ideas! Thus a decrease both in materialism and in the need to work to obtain necessities could have a profound effect on society. Our present society forces people either to work or suffer a low economic status. Companies have complicated rules about what happens to people who are late for "work" or don't keep "busy." Money is allocated to exploit people's time in various ways and to show people who is boss or who has the power. There is a possibility that exploitation in Compact City could be rechannelled into exploiting new ideas. For example, finding new uses for computers, hormones, and drugs, for propulsion and communication in space, for developing better techniques for miniaturization, for obtaining energy from the sun, for building new cities and finding ways to increase the standards of living everywhere in the world.