Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The importance of place, tradition, education and social organisation in town evolution

All the way up. Digital art by Myriam B. Mahiques

DR. J. LIONEL TAYLER (Author of "Aspects of Social Evolution") said: 
While agreeing with Prof. Geddes in his belief in the importance of institutional and geographical studies as a basis for the investigation of the development of cities, it yet seems to me that these studies cannot prove of supreme value to society unless they are accompanied by a detailed examination of the natural characteristics of all individuals who have been born into and existed in, or merely dwelt in, these surroundings. It is not enough to trace out, however accurately, the various stages of a town's growth from its commencement to the present time, because the cause of  the evolution of any city aggregate lies deeper, is in large part animate, and not inanimate, in character. The value of the surroundings depends at least as much upon the capacity of the individual citizen, singly and collectively, to utilise what he or she is brought in contact with as upon the peculiarities of these surroundings themselves. Place, tradition, social organisation, individual development, education, are factors in town evolution that cannot safely be overlooked, and they all vary from age to age and in place and place. If it were possible to completely exchange the inhabitants of a large town in England with those of an equally large town in France two groups of changes would become more or less rapidly observable: (1) the French and English citizens would adapt themselves, as far as they desired and were able, to their altered conditions; (2) the characteristics of both towns would gradually change, in spite of geographical position, in response to the altered human needs. Similarly, a town composed of individuals who are naturally uncultured and unprogressive will tend to preserve its uncultured and unprogressive characters more than another that has alert citizens to carry on its activities. Every profession and every trade tends to foster its own social atmosphere; and towns will vary with their industrial life, and individuals favourably disposed to this atmosphere will come to the town, and those unfavourably inclined to it will leave. These changing citizens, as they act upon and react to their surroundings and vary in their powers age by age, are the real evolvers of the conditions in which they dwell; hence the citizen must not be omitted from our study if we are to understand city growth. In other words, I think that every investigation of civic, and for that matter country life should be studied from two aspects: (1) to note the peculiarities, growth and development of the material, non-living and non-thinking elements in the problem—the buildings, their geographical position, their age, their fitness for past and present life, and the distinctive local features that are evolving or retrogressing with the multiplication of some trades and industries and the decline of others in each area that is studied; (2) the change in the quality of the citizens themselves through racial, educational, and other factors, noting how far ideals are altering, not only in the mass of individuals taken as a whole, but also by examining the changing outlook in every trade and profession. With these two parallel lines of investigation to study, we could then determine how far environment—social and climatic—how far racial and individual characteristics have been powerful in the moulding of the fabric around us. With these two lines of study to our hands, we could predict the vitality, the growing power, and the future possibilities of the social life of which we are a tiny though not an insignificant part; we could, knowing something of the response that we make to that which surrounds us, form some estimate of how the future ages will develop, and, knowing the intensity of the different national desires for progress and the causes which are likely to arouse such desires, we could realise what will stimulate and what will retard all that is best in our civic life. 

Civics: as Applied Sociology by Patrick Geddes Read before the Sociological Society at a Meeting in the School of Economics and Political Science (University of London), Clare Market, W.C., at 5 p.m., on Monday, July 18th, 1904; the Rt. Hon. CHARLES BOOTH, F.R.S., in the Chair. Pages 126/127

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails