Thursday, 2018/12/06, 18:15
This project is to try to understand what makes some cities attractive to people who have what we call ‘the egalitarian spirit’, wishing to live in circumstances in which they can regard themselves and others as equals. One obvious thought is that the more equal a city is in terms of income equality the more it embodies the egalitarian spirit. But if we were to rank major US cities in terms of embodying the egalitarian spirit Berkeley California would come high on any list. But it also has very high income inequality, as it is home both to billionaires and those who have nowhere to live but the street. Perhaps paradoxically, financial inequality can be a sign of inclusiveness. Contrast Berkeley with a city that has few poor people and very low ethnic diversity. It may do well in terms of income inequality yet sounds, initially, rather unappealing to those with the egalitarian spirit. Through an interview method the overwhelming impression we have so far is that what makes people feel welcome or at home in a city, and is at the heart of the idea of the egalitarian spirit is what can be called a sense of place. People want to be accepted for themselves and in their own right, although among others with similar entitlements. They do not want to be regarded as a guest or a servant, but as someone who has as much right to live within the city as anyone else. This, in turn, breaks down into several sub-themes, which we call ‘a sense of meaning’, ‘diversity and social mixing’, ‘non-deferential inclusion’ and ‘non-market access’ to good.