American Public Space Through Kunstler''s Lens

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American Public Space through Kunstler''s Lens

American Public Space through Kunstler''s Lens

The private realm includes the inside of the house, the car and the workplace, among others, and the owner controls how it looks. Investments are made on the private realm to make things comfortable. Technological developments are mostly geared towards addressing the needs of the private realm. Byrd gave some examples: “Beds are softer. Car seats adjust six ways. Workplace chairs are ergonomic.”

Most of the electronically operated products that are advertised on TV are for the private realm. We buy them even if we don't really need them as most of what we have in our homes even before we were born can already perform their functions. But they have become necessities because their utilities are regularly upgraded to suit the pace of time and the demands of the consumer world.

Kunstler argues that the reason that US cities are in such a dismal state is because the public realm has degraded and no longer functions properly as the connecting tissue of the everyday world. He also states that the public realm is the physical manifestation of the common good in a society, that there is a relationship between the surroundings and the behaviour of a society (Kunstler, 1996). He illustrates this initially by explaining why it is that Americans love Disneyland and how the Euro Disneyland has been a flop due to the French having relatively good public realms.

Kunstler states how the public realm has degraded is though social, political, and psychological problems. Socially, the US population no longer acts as citizens but consumers; Kunstler equates consumer behaviour as infantile and citizen behaviour as mature. There has been a loss of “example behaviour” from middle and upper classes to the lower due to the aforementioned being isolated in the suburbs. There is an assumption that the “example behaviour” of the upper and middle classes, are also exemplary and worth emulating. The fleeing of the middle and upper classes from the city to the suburbs means that rate paying citizens are lost from the inner city.

Politically, poor urban planning results in funding being siphoned away from investing in public works to refitting cities for cars, there was an assumption that the movement of vehicles would also bring prosperity to the cities (Kunstler, 1996). There were several governmental decisions which contritbuted to the the sense of entitlement and isolation of black Americans, which ...
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