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History of Sociology, Civics, Patrick Geddes, Scottish Generalism, Urban Sociology

The Ghost of Patrick Geddes: Civics As Applied Sociology

Alex Law
Sociological Research Online 10 (2) law

Keywords: History of Sociology, Civics, Patrick Geddes, Scottish Generalism, Urban Sociology
Abstract: In 1904 and 1905 Patrick Geddes (1905, 1906) read his famed, but today little-read, two-part paper, 'Civics: as Applied Sociology', to the first meetings of the British Sociological Society. Geddes is often thought of as a 'pioneer of sociology' (Mairet, 1957; Meller, 1990) and for some (eg Devine, 1999: 296) as 'a seminal influence on sociology'. However, little of substance has been written to critically assess Geddes's intellectual legacy as a sociologist. His work is largely forgotten by sociologists in Britain (Abrams, 1968; Halliday, 1968; Evans, 1986). Few have been prepared to follow Geddes's ambition to bridge the chasm between nature and culture, environment and society, geography, biology and sociology. His conception of 'sociology', oriented towards social action from a standpoint explicitly informed by evolutionary theory. A re-appraisal of the contemporary relevance of Geddes's thinking on civics as applied sociology has to venture into the knotted problem of evolutionary sociology. It also requires giving some cogency to Geddes's often fragmentary and inconsistent mode of address. Although part of a post-positivist, 'larger modernism' Geddes remained mired in nineteenth century evolutionary thought and fought shy of dealing with larger issues of social class or the breakthrough work of early twentieth century sociology of Simmel, Weber and Durkheim. His apolitical notion of 'civics' limits its relevance to academic sociology today.

Urban Consumption and Feelings of Attachment of Rotterdam's New Middle Class

Marco van der Land
Sociological Research Online 10 (2) vanderland

Keywords: New Middle Class, Symbolic Consumption, Urban Sociology
Abstract: Cities have increasingly developed into spaces for consumption. This paper explores the relationship between patterns of use of urban leisure amenities and feelings of attachment to the city. A survey among highly educated professionals and managers (the new middle class, working in the Dutch city of Rotterdam) was carried out in order to examine both their participation in the domain of urban leisure and urban residence, and their attachments to the city in general. The survey shows that among the new middle class subgroupings can be identified, based on their mobility with regard to leisure and their psychological attachments to the city. One of them is a group of young single urban households, who are not only frequent urban consumers, but who also feel strongly attached to the city as a whole. The findings suggest that in cities specific processes of symbolic consumption occur which facilitate some extent of psychological attachment and which appear to tie a subset of the new middle class to urban places, regardless of place of residence.